Blog post- 5 way to encourage collaboration in new teams
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5 ways to encourage collaboration in new teams

Collaboration is a key part of every team, but it’s especially important when it comes to working in new teams. After hiring two new team members through the Kickstart Scheme, we wanted to ensure that we were creating a workspace that not only felt welcoming for them, but also encouraged them to feel comfortable when working with the whole team. 

Want to know how we helped to encourage collaboration in our own team? Read on to discover the five techniques that we love to use to create a collaborative team environment, and how you can use them in your team. . 

Brainwriting…writing with your brain? 

Brainwriting is a form of idea generation done through workshops and discussions with your team. It solves problems and creates inspiring new ideas. From deciding on a new brand name to generating new content concepts, brainwriting is a great way to collect a lot of ideas at once. But what makes brainwriting so different to your usual team discussion? Well, instead of focusing on verbal communication to share ideas, brainwriting is all about (yep, you guessed it) writing your ideas down. 

The way that it works is by setting short, timed rounds where each member of the team writes down a few ideas that they have in response to a specific challenge. Once the first round is up, everyone will swap their papers with another team member and the next round starts. Then you read what the previous person wrote down and either think of ideas that link to them OR completely different ideas. This repeats for however many rounds you want.  By the end of the process, you’ll have a whole range of ideas to discuss with the team. 

Why Brainwriting works

What makes brainwriting so brilliant is that it gives everyone a chance to have their say without having to speak up. In a new team, this is especially important as it takes the pressure off those who aren’t necessarily comfortable sharing their thoughts out loud. It also allows time for more in-depth thinking and gives you the opportunity to build on other people’s ideas to create something *magical*

How you can implement brainwriting into your team 

If you’re looking to make brainwriting a part of your team strategy then there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Who will moderate the session?

Every brainwriting session needs someone to lead it. Decide as a team who will be leading the session and documenting everything that’s been raised. 

  1. How long do you want the brainwriting session to be?

Think about who needs to be in the session and schedule it when everyone has availability in their calendars. 

  1. How many rounds do you want in the session?

If you have more than five people in your team then it might be unrealistic to have everyone write on each other’s papers. Limit it to four or five rounds. 

Team project briefs 

Teamwork makes the dream work, right? It most definitely does when it comes to setting smaller team project briefs. What are they, you ask? Smaller team project briefs are tasks that are set to internal teams within your wider, overall team. For example, the content team or the design team. When you’re new to a team it can take a bit of time to get used to your role within it, as well as understanding everyone else’s roles too. Setting team project briefs is a great way to start off as you mean to go on and gives the new members a chance to be introduced to the people they’ll be working with the most. It encourages collaboration right from the start! 

Why team project briefs work

Team project briefs help people to understand the impact that they’re having within their team and the part that they play in the wider team. They also help new members to understand what their role is for a particular brief, as well as where they fit into the task, who to go to for assistance and what tasks are their responsibility. 

How you can implement team project briefs in your team

Implementing team project briefs into your own team couldn’t be easier to do. To start, identify the smaller teams that exist within your team and create a brief for a specific task that you’d like them to work on. Within the brief, assign each member of the team a clear role and explain what you’d like them to achieve as a group. 

Snaps to that! 

Designed as a way to encourage celebrating wins as a team, Snaps are the process of snapping your fingers to celebrate something good that either you or someone in your team has done. We love starting our week with Snaps as it sets the tone for the week ahead. It’s also a brilliant method of self-reflection for the whole team and gives you a chance to acknowledge just how much you’ve got done in the last week. 

Why Snaps work

When you’re joining a new team, it can be difficult to get used to acknowledging your successes, especially when you feel as though your tasks maybe aren’t as senior or important as other members of your team. Snaps are a great way to make your team realise the value of each other’s work and their own work too. Nothing is ever too small to celebrate with Snaps – whether it’s signing a contract with a new client, or a team member getting a fabulous new hairstyle. 

How you can implement Snaps in your team

Our advice for making Snaps a part of your team’s schedule is super simple. Once a week during your usual team meeting, dedicate five minutes to giving Snaps to at least one other member of your team. When everyone’s given their Snaps to someone else, do the same thing again but instead ask everyone to give themselves Snaps. We guarantee that your whole team will be feeling the positive vibes afterwards! 

DACI framework

Our next tip to encourage collaboration in a new team is to create a DACI framework, which is a framework specifically designed to help you make decisions. Why DACI? Well, it stands for: 

  • Driver (the person who’s in charge of the task and making sure it happens) 
  • Approver (the person who has the final say in any decisions made) 
  • Contributor (anyone who contributes work to the project) 
  • Informed (anyone who’s affected by the decision) 

The goal of a DACI framework is to set out clear roles and responsibilities for your team to help them approach their work. Not only does a DACI framework help everyone to understand their job, but it also gives new team members in particular an idea of how their role might affect their other team members’ work. When each team member understands the impact of their work on others then they’ll be able to work more collaboratively and efficiently. 

How you can create your own DACI framework

To form your own DACI framework, start by thinking about what it is that you want to achieve and what information you’ll need to make your decision. Some things that you’ll want to consider might be:

  • When the decision needs to be made by
  • Why you need to make the decision
  • What information & assets you’ll need to make the decision 
  • Who will be involved in the decision

Once you’ve figured that out then the DACI framework will start to become clear. From here you’ll want to assign each of your roles and feedback to anyone who’s involved in the framework why they’ve been assigned their role. 

Honest & open communication 

Communication is a key part of any team, but it’s especially important when it comes to new teams. Something that we think is essential to every team is being able to communicate honestly and openly with one another. However, we know that creating a space where everyone can feel comfortable having open conversations can be a challenge, which is why we’re sharing two of our top tips on how to approach honest communication.

Monthly PDPs

Our first tip to help promote open communication is to schedule in monthly PDPs (Personal Development Plan). As part of our schedule, we make sure to book in PDPs with every member of our team so that each month, everyone has the opportunity to have a 45-minute meeting with their manager.

PDPs are used as a safe space to discuss any personal or work-related issues that might have come up in the last month, as well as a chance to celebrate achievements and set goals for the upcoming month too.  For new members, PDPs are especially helpful as, like Snaps, they encourage self-reflection and self-praise – both of which can be difficult to adjust to at first! 

Candid feedback 

Our second top tip to encourage communication is to offer candid feedback on each other’s work. A huge part of our team environment is giving and receiving feedback on what we’ve been working on, whether it be for a specific visual design or for a written piece of content. We don’t believe in striving for perfection because it isn’t attainable! We do, however, always encourage making gradual improvements. This is why honest but considered feedback is an essential part of our work. 

How to give effective feedback to your team:

  • Be constructive, not critical
  • Keep it clear and concise
  • Consider giving verbal feedback if you’re unsure about how your comments will come off when written
  • Make it a regular part of your routine

How you can incorporate honest & open communication 

A great starting point for encouraging open communication would be to set time aside to check in with your team. This could be through a PDP meeting or even just a quick chat or call with your team members individually. Taking the time to check in with your team will build necessary relationships and establish a friendly environment where all of your team will feel comfortable raising their thoughts. 

Collaboration needs communication!

So, what does collaboration in new teams all come down to? Great communication. Each of our five tips all have one thing in common, and it’s that! Whether you’re giving verbal feedback or working on a team project, to be able to collaborate effectively in new teams, your communication needs to be spot on. 

Great things happen when you work together, which is why we started our own community, Firestarters. Putting purpose before profit, Firestarters is a cross-sector community of change-makers that provides the space and support to help the Liverpool City Region become the change it wants to see.  

Want to learn more about how we’re creating our own community of change-makers? Follow Firestarters on Twitter @heyfirestarters.