5 Ways to Improve Team Collaboration

Janet started a new job during COVID-19 as head of product management and is responsible for leading several teams in developing and upgrading customer-facing applications. Her company just started hybrid working, and she’s eager to engage her teams on more innovative dialogs and collaborative planning.

HP Laserjet Enterprise Improve Team Collaboration - Isaac Sacolick

Janet knows that people in her organization are burned out from all the video calls and online chats.  She’s going to run a brainstorming session in an office she’s never visited and checks with the organization’s CIO for technology options. The CIO recommends reviewing the HP LaserJet Enterprise 400 Series printer capabilities at all their offices to help get materials ready for the brainstorming and follow-up meetings.

Janet is not alone in the challenge of bringing teams back together to accelerate digital transformation after a year of largely working remotely. Leaders looking to boost collaboration must consider alternate tools and methodologies from what worked pre-COVID, where working in the office was the expected norm, to the opportunities today and supporting hybrid work flexibilities.

One of these tools is the advanced secure printer that enables remote printing from anywhere and has precise color reproduction and presentation grade output. Teams have a much easier time discussing, debating, and forming decisions when holding, touching, scanning, and reading materials shared before and during innovation sessions.

Here are five ways to improve team collaboration.

1. Hang the Vision Statement on Everyone’s Desk

It’s easy for teams to lose sight of the goals and vision during a digital transformation journey and while working on innovations. Remembering who the customer is, the value proposition, the target user personas, and how the innovation benefits the business are all questions that team leaders should capture in a single-page vision statement.

The next challenge is getting team members to learn, understand, and utilize the vision statement in their daily work. My answer is to print out the vision statement and ask everyone to hang it by their desk wherever they are working. The printout is a simple reminder to everyone on the team of the program’s objectives and is an artifact that teammates can easily reference when making daily decisions.  

2. Print Reading Material to Improve Learning and Absorption

Emails, slacks, tweets, and all forms of digital alerts do an amazing job of disrupting people from completing their objectives. The distractions are especially detrimental when we ask team members to read documents or review presentations in preparing for a meeting or innovation brainstorming session.

Printing the materials is the most simple answer to this challenge. Everyone’s concentration and knowledge absorption are significantly higher when holding the materials and reviewing them without distraction. When you consider how hard and expensive it is to bring people together to collaborate on critical decisions, getting everyone prepared and on the same page before the meeting is a worthwhile investment.

3. Facilitate Active Listening in Meetings

Now I have to ask, what tools are people bringing to meetings? 

There are some meetings where I want people evaluating live data or using digital tools to review the current status of workflows. When teams analyze the sales funnel, triage the root cause of a systems issue, or test the user experience of a new application, there’s good reason to bring laptops into the meeting room. 

Other times, I want people’s heads up and active listening and participating in the discussion, rather than heads down looking at screens and tools. Meetings where leaders debate priorities, review customer insights, or discuss policies, can be more productive when participants have a manageable number of printed materials in front of them to reference. Distributing printed materials to participants helps keep people focused on the discussion at hand, and people are more likely to be listening to their colleagues and contributing ideas.

Using HP Roam for Business, meeting facilitators can distribute materials securely to participants working remotely, or remote attendees can print materials directly from documents stored on Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, or SharePoint.

4. Capturing Meeting Notes and Action Items

No screens at a meeting? How can participants capture meeting notes? How should the meeting facilitator capture and share action items?

As a voracious note-taker, I struggled to find efficient practices to capture detailed meeting notes, interface with digital tools to itemize tasks, and share action items with colleagues. I arrived at a straightforward solution:

  • Write my notes, sketches, and follow-ups in my notebook
  • Scan new pages at the end of the day
  • Start the next day by creating follow-ups in the appropriate tools and applications

I make similar suggestions to my teams and direct reports. Everyone has their writing styles and tool preferences, but I remind them that meetings like interviews and other one-on-one meetings where bringing a laptop, tablet, or phone to capture notes is inappropriate. Even diehard digitalists should acknowledge that using pen, paper, and scan-to-cloud capabilities are sometimes the right tools for the job.

5. Brainstorming Collaboratively for Hybrid Teams

Let’s return to Janet and consider how she can prepare for the upcoming brainstorming session with participants in two offices and several people joining remotely.

She plans to use several diagrams during the brainstorm and wants participants to collaborate on making improvements. She simplifies participation by using HP’s Roam for Business capabilities to schedule printouts for remote attendees and prepare large posters in the meeting rooms. The posters are paired with onscreen whiteboarding tools so teams can collaborate on changes and enhancements to the diagrams.

The printouts help participants contrast the original diagrams, while the whiteboarding tools connect people across the offices and working remotely to test changes and new ideas. HP’s enterprise printers and technologies enable collaborative hybrid-working teams focused on digital transformation, innovation, and all forms of teamwork to exchange ideas and succeed.

The structure provides teams a departure from the remote working conditions they experienced over the last year. And that should be an underlying goal for leaders to excel during the transition to hybrid working, collaboration, and innovation.

This post is brought to you by HP

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of HP.

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.