by Stephanie Watson
Published on 10 August 2012
Sharing files and collaborating go far beyond just having the right tools, but also to the attitudes of the company in regard to accepting input from employees and stakeholders.
To have true collaboration you have to have more than just file sharing ability.
If you don't have the right technology to make sharing and collaboration simple, it'll be really difficult to get off on the right foot. There are many file sharing and collaborating tools that are web based, or "in the cloud" which can serve your company well in all price points. It is important to understand what type of file sharing and collaboration tools you need before you choose the technology. Have a planning session with all stakeholders prior to choosing the tools, and you'll find that everyone will more likely be on board.
Once you choose the technology, train your team to use the technology effectively. In addition, define what collaboration means to your business during the training to help team members understand what is expected. Training on the actual technology you will implement as well as training in truly collaborative exercises will increase productivity and innovation exponentially. Most employees express frustration with lack of training and sometimes job dissatisfaction is due to lack of training. Ensure that you don't skip this step if you want the transition to be successful.
Having an open environment that encourages sharing of ideas, and taking action in as equal players is much more effective than a top down approach. It might take time for the team to realize that there are no wrong answers, and that brainstorming and bringing ideas to the table is not only appreciated but expected. In addition, it should be rewarded. Even if a participant doesn't come up with the idea you all agree on, just the fact that someone came up with an idea should be recognized.
By giving employees and team members permission to give input and take action without permission, and showing appreciation to many different perspectives, you'll give everyone the power to be more creative and active in all aspects of a project. True collaboration cannot happen with a top down approach. Everyone on a team needs to be equal, and consensus should be the goal, rather than majority rules or executive privilege. The job of the team leader is to define the problem that needs to be solved, and then allow the team to move forward without interference.
Like with any tool, or project, it is important to always look back and check the numbers. Not only that, ensure that individuals and departments are working together in a truly collaborative way, and not just talking the talk but actually doing the work. It can take time for everyone to be on board, but once they are you'll see a huge increase in innovation. By comparing the numbers after true collaboration has taken effect with the numbers before collaboration and file sharing technology was implemented you'll get a good idea whether or not you're going in the right direction.
Compare a list of popular file sharing and collaboration tools