For today’s knowledge workers, there’s likely no way to escape working on a team. More and more, companies are organizing people by key projects and priorities to leverage their collective talent and move faster. And, when a team works well together, the results look like magic.
In fact, researchers in Australia have even proven the effectiveness of teams over individuals mathematically. They found that a person working alone has a 59% chance of successfully completing a series of critical tasks. However, the likelihood of success jumps to 99.9% based on a team of three subject matter experts working together—with one person completing tasks and the other two supporting the work along the way.
In practice, the shift to multi-functional, multi-level, multi-timezone teams often feels like the opposite of speed and magic. We spend more time in meetings and sorting through emails—and find very little time during usual “work hours” to advance our part of the work. The project may be making good progress, but on some teams, it certainly feels slower.
Then there’s the dynamic of trying to mash together a group of individuals—with different ideas, different experiences and different personalities. It’s not easy. According to one survey by Salesforce, 96% of executives cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communications for workplace failures. This would suggest that while we’re organizing into teams, we’re actually collaborating and communicating less! Something’s wrong with that picture.
At Convo, we believe teams are the way to go. But, we also believe there’s a better way to work as a team. We created Convo to make people happier at work—because the work moves faster, communication is easier, and everyone can get more done during the day. This means we can actually have time to recharge when we’re away from work. We want people to get the benefits of working on a team—expertise, differing viewpoints, broader access to solutions, camaraderie—without the all of the headaches.
There is mounting research that asserts autonomous teams are able to deliver better outcomes than traditional hierarchical structures. The obvious advantage of a fully autonomous team is focus. A small team of ninja-like experts can devote themselves to developing a new solution for a complex issue.
However, these types of teams can be difficult to pull off in larger organizations. While they can produce amazing solutions with just a few people, they require strong leadership to make sure the project’s needs are balanced against the company’s broad goals.
There are three areas cited most often as characteristics of effective autonomous teams: having the right people, having a clear operating mandate, and fostering a culture of mutual respect.
A team that clearly knows who’s on it and why, what they agree to accomplish together, and that respects the opinions and feelings of each member is an amazing start. But the team’s output can be helped or hindered based on the tools they use to work together.
In the 2014 annual survey by Ken Blanchard Companies, 66% of respondents cited ineffective communication as the number one barrier to team success, adding that without effective communication, conflicts went unresolved and information about team accomplishments didn’t filter out to the organization.
This is one of the main tenets behind Convo. We know that the right technology can eliminate those barriers. For example, the quality of a team’s output is highly dependent on the timeliness of feedback they receive—from an executive sponsor, other team members, outside sources and customers. Having a shared platform like Convo allows everyone, both on the team and outside of the team, to see thinking in progress, react immediately, and keep the work moving ahead.
At Convo, all of our work is posted, shared and archived on the Convo platform. We organize our work by project, and for each project, we start a new conversation thread and upload relevant documents, articles, images, test screens, etc. We also create Groups for each project so the entire team can see information as it’s developed in real-time, and we @mention subject matter experts to participate at crucial points in the discussion.
Convo also saves all of our comments, annotations, and chat conversations, so anyone on the team can refer to them later. We find this has a tremendous impact on our communications. Decisions are recorded and threads are continually updated. Best of all, everyone on the team can access the same information at the same time from either a desktop or mobile device. This frees us up from endless meetings and email chains, and gives members of the team more uninterrupted time to think and add relevant content (or comment on work in progress).
It’s changed the way we work—making it easy for each member of the team to contribute, and speeding up the team’s work overall. If you’d like to unleash your team’s ability to collaborate, visit us at Convo.