4 Best Practices in Managing Team Collaboration Apps
The move to remote working and working from home recently has thrown the use of Cloud Solutions into sharp focus. One consequence has been the loss of the collaborative opportunities offered by office-based work.
In turn, this has meant increasing the use of Cloud-based collaborative solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Some consider that they are not adequate substitutes for in-person work, and have demanded a return to the office, or adopted a hybrid solution where the bulk of the working time is spent remotely with planned office visits.
What is true is that collaboration needs to be viewed differently when working remotely and using collaborative apps. Management styles need to be different. Simply applying static group in-office policies and procedures will not work. Here are four suggestions for best practice in managing Team Collaboration.
Understanding the New Environment
Many of the objectives and skills of the new environment have not changed, some have, and if not properly recognised and managed can work against effective collaboration.
Understanding how the new environment has changed approaches to collaboration is vital. Collaboration is still a personal process, often sensitive, where a large number of subjective factors come into play.
It has undeniable benefits which will become apparent over time, but unfortunately, the problems that inevitably arise with inter-personal work are still there.
You need to understand the collaborative environment you want and how to go about creating it. Many staff new to collaborative tools and especially new to remote working need support and encouragement. Just telling everyone to use Zoom and get on with it will not work.
Many of the policies and procedures appropriate to an office environment do not apply to remote or hybrid working. Some go so far as to say the only management criteria for measuring remote work are that it is done to time and to quality.
Having said that, if collaboration includes video-based meetings, then some policies, for example, core working times and a dress code are appropriate. This is particularly true of video meetings involving third parties.
Here are four suggestions as to best practice:
Understanding the New Objectives and Approaches – The Players
Having people effective and happy in the new environment won’t happen overnight. It starts with including the relevant stakeholders in a process to create a consensus on what the new collaborative environment looks like and how it is to be implemented.
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify all the relevant stakeholders. They can be unintentionally missed, or deliberately omitted because they are opposed to the move and will obstruct the transition.
One recommendation is to identify which groups of stakeholders will actively support or oppose the transition by making or blocking a decision, those that are affected by the transition, and those that have relevant information or expertise.
That is your project team.
Understanding the New Objectives and Approaches – A Road Map
Having identified relevant stakeholders, the next step is for the project team to build a consensus on a proposed solution that could be implemented. This will not be an easy process and will Involve trade-offs between the various interest groups.
The output will be a road map defining the elements of the proposed solution and a timeline for their implementation. A second key output will be a process map, an agreed set of roles, responsibilities, and processes key to the road towards the collaborative environment.
Implementing the New Objectives and Approaches
Fostering a collaborative environment usually involves a number of objectives to be achieved in the process map;
- Having measurable goals;Nothing demotivates a team more than diffuse unmeasurable objectives. Providing clear, measurable, and achievable goals will pull a team together. They will be aligned and focused.
- Having comprehensive individual support;Individual training needs will vary. Team leaders should provide frequent one-on-one coaching sessions with their team members.
- Having a sense of ownership and responsibility; andStop micromanaging. Micromanagement is the opposite of collaboration. If you don’t micromanage, team members will take ownership of their tasks and feel responsible for their output.
- Having senior staff lead by example. Simply put, practice what you preach. Have an open collaborative management style. Encourage input and healthy discussion. Have a judgement-free environment. Reward collaborative efforts.
A collaborative work environment is the new work environment.