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Team Collaboration Best Practices: Insights from Devōt

Tina Lj.11 min readJul 5, 2024Business & Life
Team Collaboration Best Practices: Insights from Devōt
Tina Lj.11 min read
Contents:
What is team collaboration?
What are the best practices for collaboration at Devōt?
What are the best practices for remote team collaboration?
With good teamwork, you will achieve more

Whether you believe that eating before meetings is one of the best practices for collaboration (and maintaining peace in the team) or that you emphasize writing proper documentation so others can easily follow along, your actions impact the team spirit.

Team leader or not, your collaboration with other team members plays a crucial role in shaping the team dynamics. In this blog post, I wanted to offer different perspectives on the best practices for collaboration at our company, Devōt. Here, you’ll find insights from various team members on how we build a collaborative and cohesive work environment.

What is team collaboration?

Team collaboration refers to the process of individuals working together towards a common goal, leveraging their diverse skills, knowledge, and perspectives.

It involves active communication, idea sharing, and coordination among team members. Effective collaboration within a team enhances productivity, creativity, and overall performance. Collaboration should ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.

What are the best practices for collaboration at Devōt?

You can find numerous team collaboration best practices online, but in this blog, our employees at Devōt, with different job titles, backgrounds, and seniority levels, share their top tips for effective collaboration.

1. Communication is key to everything

Who better to emphasize the importance of communication than our HR team? Our HR Associate, Jadrana Bekavac, says that communication is crucial.

“It is very likely that some difficulties could have been avoided or resolved with better communication. I would suggest that before you judge, ask or check what happened. From our perspective, we see the situation in only one way; it is always necessary to check the reasons for someone's behavior.

Key aspects of effective communication include active listening (pay attention to what others are saying without interrupting), clarity and conciseness (be clear and to the point to avoid confusion, especially in written communication), regular updates (keep the team informed and ensure everyone is on the same page), and feedback (constructive feedback is essential for improvement but should be provided in a helpful and supportive way).

By prioritizing communication, we can build a collaborative team that works together efficiently and effectively, ultimately leading to better team performance and successful project outcomes.

2. Leave your ego at the door

“It's very important that there is no ego in the team. For example, the lead should listen to the most junior team member if they present a better idea, no one should be afraid to admit they are wrong, and everyone should correct each other if necessary,”

says our Software Developer, Mario Frlić.

Effective team collaboration requires humility and open-mindedness from the entire team. Team leaders must be willing to listen to ideas from all team members, regardless of their seniority.

3. Mutual respect through active listening and empathy

Our Product Designer, Tisa Bastijanić, has this advice for successful team collaboration:

“Show mutual respect by actively listening, being empathetic, and valuing everyone's role. Respecting each other's time is essential.”

Active listening and empathy play crucial roles in fostering respect among team members. When team members listen attentively and understand each other's perspectives, trust is built, and relationships will strengthen.

Empathy allows us to appreciate the challenges and contributions of others, whether they come from tech or non-tech backgrounds, junior or senior positions. Fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding their message, responding thoughtfully, and remembering what is being said are key components of active listening.

Empathy involves understanding things from other people's perspectives and showing compassion. Recognizing and appreciating the unique contributions of each team member and valuing each other's time by being punctual for meetings and mindful of deadlines.

build collaborative teams with proper communication skills

4. Remember that across from you is a person with their own problems and emotions

Building on the topic of empathy from the previous paragraph, our Head of Human Resources, Ana Ćuro Rukavina, says:

“Across from us is a person who comes to meetings with their own problems, emotions, and thoughts. For successful collaboration, I think it's important to know and understand yourself and to be open to knowing and understanding others.”

Creating space for understanding and empathy is crucial in team collaboration. Recognizing that each team member brings their own unique challenges and perspectives to the table helps foster a supportive and collaborative environment.

By being open to understanding others, you create space for meaningful interactions and build stronger, more cohesive teams.

5. Praise colleagues publicly and criticize them privately

Our Quality Assurance Engineer, Leo Cvijanović, had a few things to say about what to say in private and what publicly:

“Always praise your colleagues in public and offer constructive criticism in private.”

Publicly praising colleagues motivates the team and reinforces positive behaviors. On the other hand, offering criticism in private helps address issues without causing embarrassment or resentment.

Areas for improvement should be discussed in one-on-one meetings or private messages, focusing on constructive feedback (emphasizing the word constructive). Striving to balance positive reinforcement and constructive criticism helps team members grow and develop.

We received similar advice from our HR:

“Every praise or highlighting of someone else's work should be done publicly, in front of others, while any negative feedback should be given one-on-one, regardless of whether it is superior to a subordinate, a colleague to a colleague, or a subordinate to a superior,”

said Jadrana.

6. Talk to people about their hobbies

Our Software Developer, Hrvoje Dumančić, thinks that one of the best ways to promote team collaboration is to ask team members what they do in their free time and chat with them occasionally about it.

“Engage with your colleagues about their hobbies to build a friendly work environment.”

Building personal connections with team members can significantly enhance collaboration. This practice can strengthen relationships and create a more cohesive and friendly work environment.

Making an effort to remember what colleagues enjoy doing in their free time, taking time during breaks or casual moments to chat about non-work-related topics, and using these conversations to find common interests and build stronger relationships are important aspects.

7. Assume you don't know how to communicate or approach communication well

Our Software Developer, Jerko Čulina, believes that humility and self-awareness are critical for effective communication.

“I assume that I don't know how to communicate or approach communication well.”

By assuming that you might not always communicate or approach communication in the best way, you remain open to learning and improvement. This mindset encourages you to seek feedback and be receptive to others' perspectives.

Recognize that communication is a skill that can always be refined. When you approach interactions with the understanding that there is always room for better communication, you are more likely to ask clarifying questions, actively listen, and ensure that your message is clearly understood.

8. Document comments on tickets

Effective documentation is essential for team collaboration, especially if we are talking about a fast-paced software development environment. Our Tech Lead, Marko Meić-Sidić, emphasized the importance of documenting comments on tickets:

“Always write your comments on tickets, whether they are ideas, problems, or solutions. This keeps everyone informed and provides a reference.”

Writing down these comments ensures that everyone is informed and provides a reference point for future discussions. Documentation helps maintain a clear record of the project’s progress and decisions, making it easier for team members to track changes and understand the context of various tasks.

This practice also promotes transparency and accountability, ensuring that all team members can access the same information and contribute effectively.

knowledge sharing

9. Have a lot of patience, both for listening and repeating (to those who don't listen)

For workplace collaboration, QA Leo Cvijanović says that you need to be prepared to listen attentively and repeat information for those who may have missed it:

“Patience is key. Be prepared to listen attentively and repeat information for those who may have missed it.”

This way, you maintain effective communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Listening allows you to understand others' perspectives fully, and patience in repeating information ensures that everyone can understand and contribute.

He also says that you need to be prepared that some people might not listen. "Expect that not everyone will pay attention. Always ask for feedback to confirm understanding."

10. Don't continuously interrupt other people for help

One of the tips for good team collaboration comes from our Software Developer, Karlo Auguštanec:

“Respect your colleagues' time and concentration by avoiding constant interruptions. Save your questions for designated times or group them together.”

Constantly interrupting colleagues for help can disrupt their focus and workflow. By planning your questions and seeking help during appropriate moments, you help create a balance between collaboration and individual productivity, ensuring that everyone's time is valued.

11. Use humor and maintain a relaxed atmosphere when possible

“The most important thing of all - humor. Encourage a relaxed atmosphere with humor and direct communication. The team should know when it's appropriate to joke around and when it's time to be serious and get work done.

Product Designer Tisa Bastijanić sees this as one of the best practices for building collaborative teams. The team should be able to distinguish between times when it is appropriate to joke around and times when serious work needs to be done. This balance helps maintain a positive work environment where team members feel comfortable and motivated.

12. Know the time and place for everything

Continuing on the previous best practice, our Tech Lead Ante Crnogorac says this:

“Time for chit-chat during meetings is the first 3-5 minutes while everyone gathers, not in the middle of analysis and discussions. In team discussions, be the one who cuts off unnecessary debates and brings the team back on topic.”

Understanding the appropriate time and place for different types of conversations is crucial for successful teamwork. Keeping meetings focused and minimizing off-topic discussions ensures that the team's efforts are directed toward achieving their goals efficiently.

team collaboration best practices

13. Assumptions lead to misunderstandings

One thing has always been clear: assumption is the mother of all mistakes. Our HR Associate, Jadrana Bekavac, emphasizes:

Assumption equals a misunderstanding. Most often, two people will assume differently. During the collaboration, it is always important to agree on all aspects precisely. This includes who does what, within what timeframe, and what the milestones are.

Additionally, it’s crucial to determine when the meetings are, whether they are in person or online, who leads and prepares the content for meetings, who communicates with stakeholders, what the 'definition of done' is, and what happens if someone gets stuck with something.”

Ensuring that all team members are on the same page helps coordinate efforts and achieve common goals. By eliminating assumptions and promoting transparency, we can all work more effectively as a team and enhance our overall performance.

14. The team should be working toward the same goal, not against each other

If you go back to the blog's beginning and see the definition of team collaboration, you can see that it includes “individuals working together towards a common goal.Our Product Designer, Tisa Bastijanić, completely agrees with that:

“Remind the team they are working toward the same goal, not against each other. All team members have the same objective they are working towards.”

Collaborative teams function best when all team members are aware of and committed to the same objectives. To encourage team members, work on fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. This can prevent internal conflicts and ensure that everyone's efforts are directed toward achieving the team's goals.

15. Don't schedule meetings for occasions that do not require meetings

Research shows that people attend an average of between 11 to 15 meetings per week. Our Software Developer Karlo Auguštanec had a few things to say about that:

“Avoid unnecessary meetings. Use Slack messages or threads for quick discussions and updates instead.”

Effective time management is crucial for maintaining productivity in a collaborative environment. Ensure that team meetings are reserved for more significant discussions requiring collective input. Properly planning team meetings with clear agendas and purposes will contribute to effective team collaboration and better team dynamics.

16. Own your work

Our Operations Manager, Bojan Rukavina, highlights the importance of owning your own work as one of the best practices for collaboration:

“A sense of responsibility for each team member is very important. You must be able to take ownership of your part of the work.”

A sense of ownership among team members is crucial for successful collaboration. When each member takes responsibility for their part of the work, it ensures accountability and reliability, which are essential for the team to function effectively.

Ownership drives individuals to deliver their best work, contributing to the team's overall success and cohesion. This commitment to personal responsibility helps achieve common goals.

17. Remember, there are no stupid questions

We say this a lot, but when it comes to collaborative work, we often stay silent, thinking someone will think we are asking something “stupid.” Our Software Developer, Nikola Dugalić, says this:

“Don't hesitate to ask any question; there are no stupid questions. If needed, ask the same question twice to ensure it sinks in.”

This openness is vital for the team's success. Asking questions, even repeatedly if necessary, ensures clarity and understanding, contributing to better collaboration and more effective teamwork. It helps create an environment where everyone feels comfortable seeking help and sharing their thoughts.

18. Never touch someone else's branch/PR without permission

Our Software Developer, Luka Cerovac, recently learned this practice firsthand.

“It's not wise to mess with others' work before checking with them because it can easily mess things up.”

Always communicate effectively before making changes to someone else's work. This approach prevents potential mistakes and ensures that everyone is aware of modifications.

19. Create a positive and motivating atmosphere

“A good and positive team atmosphere encourages more motivation to work among your team, and everyone will feel better and like it’s a safe place,”

said our Accounting Assistant, David Hokman.

Employees who feel motivated and safe are more likely to contribute actively and engage fully with their work. Creating a supportive and uplifting environment enhances team performance and promotes overall well-being. Everyone in the team is responsible for maintaining this atmosphere.

What are the best practices for remote team collaboration?

It is easier to have good team relationships when you see someone in person. But what if you are working remotely and can't see your team, except for the occasional team building? Here are some best practices from our colleague, Software Developer Jerko Čulina, who works remotely:

  • Adapt communication style: Adjust your communication style depending on who you are talking to.

  • There are no stupid questions: Always feel free to ask questions, no matter how trivial they may seem.

  • Take breaks outside: Walk outside to get fresh air and clear your mind. Many people who work in the office go for a walk after lunch, but you can do it by yourself, even though you are home.

  • Take time to communicate clearly: Spend as much time as necessary to communicate effectively.

  • Communicate the high-level picture first: Start with an overview before diving into details.

  • Make clear topic breakdown: Clearly separate and outline different aspects of a topic.

  • Address problems immediately: If you have a problem with something, communicate it right away.

  • Ask questions to communicate more: Since you are not in the office, you might miss some things that are communicated away from meetings, so you are not in the loop. Try to communicate in a way that involves asking questions to grasp what is happening.

  • Understand different people and styles: Recognize that there are various types of people with different approaches and communication skills. Especially if you are remote and rely heavily on written communication.

  • Encourage ping on Slack: Let everyone know they can ping you on Slack and address those pings promptly.

team

With good teamwork, you will achieve more

Collaboration and teamwork offer numerous benefits. When talking with people from Devōt, whether they are from tech or non-tech teams, I found that they emphasize the importance of proper communication and the understanding that there are no stupid questions.

The truth is, if you communicate effectively and share what is your definition of best practices for collaboration, there is a high chance your team will be on the same page, leading to greater achievements. Never assume that everyone thinks the same way you do, and always remember that your team should be working towards the same goal. By fostering a collaborative environment, you can ensure that your team’s efforts are aligned and focused, ultimately driving success and innovation.

If you want to be part of one of our collaborative teams, check out our careers page to see the available job positions. If you don't find what you're looking for, don't worry—send us an open application and we'll keep you in mind for future opportunities.

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