Collaboration plays an important role in any technical team environment. Whether you’re a technical professional looking to hone your collaboration skills or a Team Lead, Manager, or C-Suite executive hoping to help your tech team improve their collaboration, focusing on these three key areas will lead to a more productive and collaborative tech team.
1. Ideas and Input: If you want your employees to willingly and regularly share their ideas and input—which is an essential part of the collaboration process—you have to actively foster an environment where technical professionals are comfortable doing so. And, on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a technical professional who wants to improve your collaboration skills, the first thing you need to do is improve your willingness to share your ideas and input as well as your willingness to listen to and implement other people’s ideas and input. Here’s what you can do to overcome this common collaboration roadblock:
Is your team hesitant to share their work until it’s polished or near perfect? This can drastically slow down the process of getting to the best idea and waste more time and effort than you want to. Instead, you need to foster a culture where sharing unfinished work is the norm and sharing snippets of ideas is acceptable. If you’re expecting perfect ideas and input at all times, your team will always disappoint you. But, if your technical team feels free to share fledgling ideas, unfinished work, and unpolished input you’ll find the best idea a lot faster and improve your tech team’s overall productivity.
If you’re a technical professional who wants to confidently share your ideas and input, this guide can help you out. If you need to improve your active listening skills so you can be more receptive to your coworkers’ ideas and input, practice following the five key steps of active listening: pay attention, show that you’re listening, provide feedback, defer judgment, and respond appropriately.
2. Intentionally Choose the Right Tools: Want to enable your technical employees to talk to one another and collaborate in real time, even without all being in the same place? There are so many tools available to help your tech team thrive and collaborate in real time. From video conferencing to Google Docs to Slack to whiteboards, choosing a few key tools that best fit your tech team’s needs and getting everyone on board will help the collaboration process run smoothly.
If you’re a technical professional looking to improve your own collaboration, take some time to evaluate the myriad of tools your team is currently using. Are there too many to keep up with regularly? Is everything lumped together and disorganized in one place when it might be better suited to a divide and conquer method? Talk to your coworkers and your Manager about the ways you use these tools and recommend any tools you know of that might be better suited to the way your team works.
3. Mundane Energy Drain: If there are an overwhelming amount of day-to-day tasks, technical professionals can easily get bogged down in the mundane. This leads to less collaboration and less time to focus on generating new ideas or working on big, long-term projects in a collaborative way.
If you’re in charge of a tech team, see if you can automate some of the mundane tasks your technical professionals have to complete every day or if you can hire a junior level technologist to take some of these less complex responsibilities off of your tech team’s plate so they can focus more of their time on creative thinking, problem solving, and major collaborative projects.
If you’re a technical professional looking to reduce the energy drain that mundane tasks have on your day, try time blocking your day. Set aside an hour for creative thinking, analytical problem solving, and generating ideas a couple of times per week and bring these ideas to the table during team meetings. Or time block your more mundane tasks so you only work on them on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, saving Tuesday and Thursday for higher level collaboration, idea generation, and problem solving. Tinker with your schedule in a way that suits you best. If you don’t have the autonomy to do so in your current environment, suggest the whole team tries out this method for a week to see how everyone likes it.
Collaborating is key if you want to be a part of or be in charge of a tech team that’s running smoothly and churning out projects in a productive, time efficient manner. With this guide, you can improve your own collaboration as part of a tech team and foster a more collaborative tech team environment!