Your company has inked a deal with a household-name client. Maybe it's finally wrapped up a major project that took months to complete. Or maybe your team not only reached that high benchmark, you crushed it. Everyone feels a great sense of accomplishment, and the general sentiment now is, "How can we keep this momentum going?"

No matter the industry, any business leader wants to craft a recipe for repeatable success, and one of the essential ingredients will be effective collaboration among employees. Good teamwork doesn't just happen, and when team members are on the road or in different geographical locations, collaboration becomes more complicated while being more important than ever.

For those looking for some guidance, the Rackspace-sponsored Collaboration & Mobility Assessment is a quick and user-friendly way to measure your company's teamwork potential. It also provides recommendations from unified collaboration experts, including management consultant Deb Mills-Scofield.

Assessing Your Company's Collaboration Potential

The first step toward making some collaboration improvements is to conduct an analysis of your company's workflow and how it manages employees whether they're in-house or mobile. If your organization has the tools or the motivation to collaborate more effectively but isn't seeing any tangible improvements, it's time to figure out why.

"Successful collaboration isn't just about providing the necessary tools and training for collaboration," she explains, "but also about building trust with employees." She suggests that collaboration develop in an organic way, rather than something being imposed on a team. "Watch how your people collaborate," Mills-Scofield advises. "Then translate that into a tool that will fit as naturally as possible into their day-to-day routine and behavior."

Where Collaboration Really Starts

Mobility and anywhere access have been game changers in how we collaborate at work. As easy as it is to be connected from any location, it's commonly thought that the latest technology is all a company needs for collaboration to flourish. With the latest software in place, employees have an easy way to communicate and access information, so the problem's solved.

The reality is that a major asset is being overlooked: your employees themselves. Although new technologies are crucial for staying competitive, the fundamentals of collaboration depend on people knowing how to work together throughout the course of a project. If team members aren't using their collective skills to reach a common goal, all the tech wizardry in the world won't lead to authentic collaboration.

Creating the Right Environment

In a company with strict boundaries between departments, it shouldn't be a surprise that teamwork is a challenge. People working in silos will be disconnected from other departments and won't be aware of how their work fits into the big picture. Correcting this entails making sure that clear goals are established and that each team member is aware of how he or she contributes to the larger process.

It may also be necessary to rethink standard processes that have historically delivered successful results yet today have become too slow and cumbersome. Efficiency is what's missing, and that entails getting people interacting to solve problems and generate ideas.

The Evolution of Collaboration

The Monday morning meeting is no longer what it used to be. Several people are participating, but only four are gathered in the boardroom, thanks to videoconferencing. Everyone provides status updates and at one point a new document is uploaded to a shared content platform so that each person can make additions right then and there. A question comes up that can be best answered by someone outside of the meeting. After checking that person's email status, a message is sent, a reply is received and the question is answered. The meeting ends with the reminder that everyone can share news throughout the day on the group chat network.

For businesses around the world, collaboration has taken on a whole new meaning. As the above scenario shows, teamwork requires a combination of the right tools and the right mindset. With BYOD, mobility and the cloud becoming commonplace, collaboration hinges on taking an agile approach to communicating, sharing information and problem solving. When a team knows how to collaborate well, they'll have a good chance at maintaining their momentum of success while tech trends come and go.

Published on: Jan 7, 2015