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Introducing and Establishing Team Collaboration Tools

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 20, 2017
Introducing and Establishing Team Collaboration Tools
By Denise R. Calabrese, CAE, President of Calabrese Management

There’s no shortage of team collaboration tools out there, but taking the leap in embracing them – and then having people actually use them consistently – is a bit of a process. 

For the team at Calabrese Management, our first foray into collaboration tools began with the need to address an internal frustration: trying to manage our calendars. We were spending an inordinate amount of time checking in with each other on availability, double-checking which client needed to be billed when a conference line was booked, and not being fully informed as a team when there were absences from the office.

We discovered that Google Calendar had the functionality we needed, enabling us to be more productive and coordinated. Now, everyone on the team puts everything on the collective calendar including meetings, calls, and out of office notices.

Once we had mastered that – and found it incredibly beneficial – we started using Google Drive to enhance our internal collaboration and ensure that all staff had access to everything they needed should they be working remotely. Adopting cloud technology also avoided some of the pitfalls with having an internal drive that can sometimes really let you down just when you seem to need it most!

The move to using the Google suite of collaboration tools with clients presented both opportunities and challenges. 

One of our more tech savvy clients wanted to use the Google platform to communicate with each other and so we created an account for the organization and uploaded board folders, committee folders, and other organizational and financial documents. Rather than emailing documents, it was left to our client to download them when they wanted to access them. At first, we kept getting requests to have the documents emailed. Fortunately, our client’s board was really supportive and clearly communicated that no documents (other than confidential ones) would be circulated via email and that everyone had to use the Drive. That kind of reinforcement is invaluable and necessary to getting new approaches adopted within an organization.

Having successfully integrated the Drive into our working method, our client was interested in enhancing communication among the Board members and for that, we turned to Google Hangouts. This tool enables real time conversation and notifications and is an easy way for a team to interact on an ongoing basis. One of the key benefits we found is that there was more personal interaction among the board members, creating closer and personal connections that have enhanced their work overall. 

The success we had with the client’s board then led us to using Google Hangouts with their Nominating Committee. Here we focused on the video conferencing capabilities and not surprisingly, we found that people paid more attention in the meeting and it was possible to see the collective reactions to initiatives, ensuring that we could address any concerns right on the call. Video also prevented participants from multi-tasking (something we’re all guilty of on a conference call) and kept everyone focused and productive. 

We’ve also used Hangouts to do video interviews with nominees, enabling the Nominating Committee to have a better read on potential candidates and thus make better decisions. 

Throughout the process of introducing new tools to our client, we spent the time training them, upping their comfort levels, and helping to ensure adoption. 

Along with organizational commitment, training is essential to ensuring success and taking full advantage of the improved communication and efficiency offered by collaboration tools.

Our staged approach, both internally and with our clients, has been extremely successful and has helped ensure that the collaboration tools are solidly integrated into our working methods.

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