Improve Your Collaboration Process For Your Team

Improve Your Collaboration Process For Your Team

We don’t know about you, but we’re surprised that the Word of the Year for 2015 was not “collaboration“.* Because doesn’t it feel as if collaboration had grown into one of those hip words in the workplace that we throw around when we want to sound knowledgeable and modern? Envisioning collaboration, many might think of team members working in a collaborative environment – for better or worse – but mostly for worse. If you use SharePoint® as a content management system or for collaboration tools, you might be nodding your head in agreement right now.

Team members work together, and they might even try to keep content organized, but something just doesn’t click in the collaboration process. That’s because team members may have differing definitions of team collaboration: Some may perceive it as one single action, whereas others believe it to be an ever-changing process.  AIIM is the proponent of the latter definition and proposes that the collaboration process is a life cycle, consisting of eight conceptual stages.

Their definitions of the life-cycle process and collaboration include:

  • Awareness – We become part of a working entity with a shared purpose
  • Motivation – We drive to gain consensus in problem-solving or development
  • Self-synchronization – We decide as individuals when things need to happen
  • Participation – We participate in collaboration and we expect others to participate
  • Reciprocity – We share and we expect sharing in return through reciprocity
  • Reflection – We think and consider alternatives
  • Engagement – We proactively engage rather than wait and see

We considered AIIM’s collaboration life cycle, examined the eight stages, and wondered how this concept could foster collaboration within a SharePoint environment. Let’s jump in, shall we?

Awareness: In technical terms, you begin the collaborative process when you receive a notification that someone added you to a Team Site. By this time, your project manager has developed a content strategy, discussion boards, folders, and workflows.

Motivation: You may have noticed above that AIIM interprets the meaning of motivation in a different way than we typically do. It seems like this part answers the how, and not the why, of completing a task. Based on this definition, during the motivation phase, you accept the processes and rules set up for the project. Ideally, you will find an introductory paragraph, or two, on your Team Site. You can always refer to the Newsfeed for more information.

Self-synchronization: At this level, you as an individual contributor have to decide when you need to contribute with your portion. So you can check your Calendar for an estimated timeline for the project and even set up Alerts to keep your work on track.

Participation: Obviously, there is a mutual understanding in the group that every member carries responsibility. You can maximize team coordination by posting messages on the Team Site, contributing team-generated content to your corporate repository, sharing your ideas, and abiding by governance guidelines. Uploading, downloading, and interacting with documents will further foster engagement.

Mediation: At some point, the work your team members have completed thus far may require you to recalibrate your plan of attack. Make sure you store your work in SharePoint and that everyone gives and receives feedback on their parts.

Reciprocity: AIIM defines reciprocity as the stage during which “we share and we expect sharing in return.” In our case of working together in SharePoint, this phase could go hand-in-hand with participation because as you’re completing your portion of the project, you share your results with the rest of the team almost immediately. It’s important to have a process for distributing or managing information, such as a Knowledge Base.

Reflection: During reflection, you should ask yourself, “Does this collaboration process need tweaking?” “Did I encounter gaps in the collaboration process, and what could I do next time to improve it?” This phase also gives you an opportunity to understand the limitations of your SharePoint environment.

Engagement: When you proactively anticipate your next project, its launch will go smoother. You can check the Calendar, set Alerts and Tasks for yourself, and follow how dialogues in SharePoint unfold. Similar to an earlier step in the collaboration process, self-synchronization, and engagement keeps you focused, aware, and ready to participate. See how the cycle is complete this way?

While we were able to apply the concepts to our example of collaboration in SharePoint, we reckon that these phases do not necessarily have to be consecutive. One shouldn’t feel obliged to proceed to the next stage if it doesn’t feel natural in the collaborative effort. Sometimes team members have to move back and forth in the cycle and some steps, like participation and reciprocity, can happen simultaneously. Nonetheless, we like the idea of collaboration involving multiple phases. Visualizing it as a process, as opposed to a passive concept, can help you optimize and energize joint efforts. You don’t have to enforce all eight steps in your group projects. Simply starting to collaborate consciously is a great first step towards improved teamwork.

Do you think this model could work for you? How do you foster collaboration within your team?

To learn more about workplace collaboration the collaboration process and collaboration tools in the Bamboo Way, attend our webinar.

*P.S. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the Word of the Year 2015 was “emoji”.

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