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How Leaders Can Motivate Teams to Collaborate

Getting employees to work with one another can bring major benefits to your bottom line.

If your team is lacking in efficiency, productivity and creativity, it might be time to take a deeper look into the way your team collaborates. In the workplace, collaboration is the key to success, helping employees develop dynamic, innovative ideas that can take your business to the next level. 

According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, improved communication and collaboration through social technologies can raise the productivity of workers by 20 to 25 percent. Plus, increased productivity and higher rates of collaboration can positively impact employee retention and satisfaction. That's probably why nearly 75 percent of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as "very important."

As a manger, you play a critical role in facilitating and encouraging collaboration. Here's how you can do that with your team.

Build Trust as a Leader
Creating a culture of collaboration starts with building trust as the leader. If you want employees to collaborate with you and others, they need to trust that their work matters, that they're welcome to share their ideas and that you care as much as they do. To make this happen, you need to take the first step: 

"To build trust within your team, you have to lead by example," according to team-collaboration experts at Hubgets. "Asking your employees to perform at the highest levels and deliver on time while you are constantly late and avoiding hard work will never help you gain the trust and respect you expect from your people." 

This trust empowers employees to do their best work, share innovative ideas and take risks -- all of which are critical elements of a thriving, collaborative business. 

Give Employees the Tools They Need
Thanks to advances in technology, workplace collaboration has never been easier or more affordable. Chat tools, for example, make employees more accessible to one another. That's probably why, according to a survey by ReportLinker, 49 percent of employees think instant-messaging tools increase team collaboration.

These tools make it quick and convenient to share files and ideas, troubleshoot problems and make decisions, all without needing to be in person or hold a meeting. As a manager, it's your responsibility to give your team the most effective tools to facilitate collaboration, so consider investing in the following: 

● Video conferencing 
● Instant messaging and file transfers
● Project management 
● File Sharing

Know When to Get Out of the Way
You might think that it helps to be a micromanager or someone who must control every aspect of their team's workflow, but it actually hurts your team and its chances for success. Leaders who micromanage can stifle collaboration within their teams, leaving employees to feel like they need to run everything by their boss, rather than working together as a team. 

"Those team members with the great ideas, quality skills and knowledge will remove themselves from any micromanagement situation, while those on the other side of the coin will become office deadweights, waiting for the manager to tell them what to do," explain the experts at Impraise

While providing guidance and best practices is important, employees need the freedom to work together to solve problems. Give your employees the freedom and encouragement to come up with solutions as a team, without you stepping in. In doing so, your team will generate more innovative ideas that can take your business to the next level. Remember, two heads are always better than one. 

Make It Part of Your Culture
Making collaboration a part of your company culture means that it becomes a given -- employees naturally collaborate because it's just how the company works. Luckily, there are many ways to ingrain collaboration into your workplace culture. Here are a few ideas:

● Initiate a cross-department shadowing program, encouraging employees to get to know co-workers from other departments. Collaboration can't happen if you operate in a silo'd environment. 
● Hold weekly or monthly brainstorming sessions as a company or a team, where all employees are free to share ideas. 
● Use regular 1-on-1 meetings as a way to share ideas between managers and employees. Some employees might be shy to share in front of the group, so this gives them a chance to participate. 
● Don't forget to reward great ideas the come out of collaboration, giving employees a reason to keep doing it again and again. 

Motivate Teams to Collaborate
Create a supportive environment in which collaboration and teamwork is encouraged and celebrated. By allowing employees to make their own decisions, giving them the tools they need to collaborate, and showing them that they can trust you and their co-workers, you allow collaboration to drive growth in your business. Use these ideas to make employees more productive, and watch the team, and the company, flourish.

Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She's been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes and Fast Company. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.