The 12th-century British legend of King Arthur tells the story of a leader who inspired his knights to unite and overcome challenges together—going on dangerous adventures, facing formidable opponents in battle, or solving puzzles to complete their quests.
Breaking with tradition, Arthur held court at a round, rather than rectangular, table. Why? Because that way, everybody had an equal seat at the table—even the king.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are a great metaphor for team collaboration and good leadership. It’s well known that collaborative teams perform better than isolated individuals, but to get the best out of people, you need to lead by example and give everyone an equal chance to contribute—as King Arthur did. This helps create a great company culture that inspires your teams to work together towards a common goal. And that’s the Holy Grail for any leader.
In this article, we’ll walk you through seven ways you can inspire your workplace warriors and turn them into a truly collaborative team.
Let the quest begin!
Build legendary collaborative teams destined for success.
Switchboard gives you the tools you need to help your team achieve great things together.
What are the best ways to inspire team collaboration?
Known for fairness, wisdom, and bravery, King Arthur lived his values and inspired his knights to do the same—and work together toward their shared goals. Here are seven best practices you can use to lead by example and bring out the best in your entire team.
1. Create—and demonstrate—values that encourage teamwork
Company values give your team a shared sense of purpose and direction. When team members are aligned on shared principles, decision making is simplified and it’s easier for them to support each other and work together towards common goals.
To inspire teamwork, define and demonstrate values that build trust, increase communication, and foster a sense of belonging. For example:
- Transparency: be upfront about what’s going on in the company and encourage open and honest communication amongst team members. This lets everyone know where they stand within the team and what to expect, which builds trust.
- Always be kind and respectful: be mindful of people’s time, feelings, and bandwidth. Think about what, when, and how you communicate and lead with empathy. For example, if you’re running a long meeting, take regular breaks and give everybody a chance to speak and ask questions.
- Extreme ownership: emphasize the importance of everyone identifying potential problems or opportunities before they happen. Be proactive, take decisive actions, and own your mistakes–and your team will too.
- Adaptability: value flexibility and the ability to adjust to change. This is especially crucial for small, remote teams that can face unexpected obstacles or large changes in plans along their journey.
- Knowing the “why”: highlight the value in understanding the reason behind requests and tasks, encouraging people to ask when it’s not clear. For example, if a process seems outdated and your team can see a better way forward, they should feel empowered to say so.
- Radical candor: create a safe space where your team can give and receive fair, honest feedback. For example, never use the language of blame, always see the best in people, and give honest but constructive criticism.
Codify your values into an easy-to-follow rulebook and talk about them during team onboarding. This helps everyone start on the same page when they join your company.
2. Give leaders what they need to lead
King Arthur gave his knights different opportunities to prove their bravery and skill. For example, he’d send them on challenging missions to bring out the best in them, increase confidence, and strengthen their sense of camaraderie. Here’s how you can do the same for your teams.
- Provide training and development opportunities: offer workshops, coaching sessions, and access to leadership resources like podcasts and books for all members of the team.
- Give leaders the tools they need to lead: don’t skimp on budget, personnel, and technology.
- Live your values: lead by example and exhibit the behaviors and qualities you expect of your managers.
- Offer regular performance feedback: provide regular feedback to managers on their leadership style and effectiveness to help them identify areas for improvement and strength.
- Encourage experimentation and innovation: empower managers to experiment with new approaches and technologies to continuously improve their leadership style.
Ultimately, the success of a team depends on the strength of its leaders. Invest in your managers and give them the tools they need to lead by example and make remote work feel just as productive as face-to-face work
Looking for more tips on becoming a better remote leader? Check out our ultimate guide to managing remote teams.
3. Communicate expectations
An important part of an effective company culture—one that gets teams working together to move the needle—is to clearly outline and communicate expectations. This means being clear about where you want to go as a company and how your teams–and each individual member–can contribute.
This starts with onboarding. Start by explaining your company’s culture and values to set a new employee’s expectations. Tell them what effective team collaboration looks like in your organization, and how they can get there. And then show them by living those values yourself.
Pro tip: Switchboard is a browser-based online workspace that lets you and your people collaborate on documents and apps inside a virtual room without having to share your screens or switch between multiple tools and tabs.
When you use Switchboard for onboarding, you can keep all the materials you need to train your new hire in a permanent, virtual room. Switchboard rooms save your work so you can use the same space the next time you’re training a new team member.
You can also sit down with your team and set individual quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that align with your company goals. OKRs provide transparency across the board and let everyone know how they’re contributing to moving the bigger picture.
For example, let’s say one of your HR department’s overall goals is to improve employee retention rates by 50% by the end of the year. That means your HR manager’s personal objective might include running monthly pulse surveys to find out how people feel about the company.
4. Celebrate teamwork
Rewarding teamwork doesn’t just improve employee engagement and motivation—it also boosts team performance and shows people the type of workplace you want to create. It shows everyone that their contributions are appreciated and don’t go unnoticed. And when people feel valued and supported, they’re more likely to go the extra mile to achieve individual and shared goals.
Here are some ways you can show your appreciation:
- Make team collaboration–rather than individual success–something you evaluate your people on in regular performance reviews. For example, if someone regularly organizes productive brainstorming sessions over a virtual meeting tool, you can rate them in their performance review for being “highly collaborative.” To show prospective employees how important team collaboration is to your company, make sure to also add it to your job descriptions.
- Acknowledge individuals during company-wide meetings. If you hold a regular all-hands, you could dedicate part of it to recognizing people who recently demonstrated company values. Doing so shows everyone else in the company how much you value teamwork.
- Give people shoutouts in team or “wins” channels. Create a dedicated “wins” channel on your team messaging app, like Slack. When people shine, give them a shout-out with details of what they did and what they achieved. Encourage teammates to give each other shoutouts as well.
5. Share knowledge and experience
Instead of wasting time searching for information or documents, empower your teams to work better together by giving them file-sharing software to access everything they need—documents, team meeting recordings, and images.
Beyond that, you can create virtual spaces for your team to share insights, discuss their methods, exchange feedback, and learn from each other’s mistakes. For example, if you’re heading up a team of editors in a remote marketing agency, you can use Slack channels to talk about how to hit your targets for your clients in less time. Or a group of social media strategists could use team collaboration tools to analyze why a certain post performed better than another.
Pro tip: When you use Switchboard to brainstorm with team members, you can create virtual meeting rooms and add all the necessary documents, apps, and websites to it in advance. Skip screen-sharing altogether and engage in a multi-player experience where everyone can contribute and share ideas in real time.
6. Invite and listen to feedback
People want to be part of a company where everyone feels safe to voice their opinions and share feedback. This builds trust and team cohesion, and when people feel part of a tight-knit group, they’re more encouraged to work together.
Ask for–and act on–frequent feedback and let your employees know that you take their views seriously. If you can’t fix something immediately, let them know why. They’ll trust you all the more for your honesty.
Yearly reviews are a great place for employees to give feedback on their managers, company processes, or even the direction of the company. You can also create an evergreen anonymous feedback form on your company knowledge base or HR platform. Finally, encourage your managers to open weekly “office hours” so their teams can book 1:1 video calls and talk about their ideas.
7. Create the right environment
A supportive, positive workplace helps your employees communicate better and work together more effectively. When they know they can count on each other, they’ll be more ready and able to take risks, which often have the highest reward.
By creating the right environment for remote collaboration, you help your teams be more effective and ensure they’re well-equipped to achieve their goals. Here are our tips for getting started:
- Give them the right tools
- Provide a stipend for their home office or coworking space
Let’s take a closer look at how to do each of these things.
1. Give them the right tools
To help one of his knights on a quest, Arthur lent him his sword: Excalibur. To help your people succeed, you can give them a magical weapon in the form of a powerful tech stack filled with remote collaboration and communication tools.
These tools let teams that are spread out across the globe work together on projects and tasks async or in real time. This helps them feel more connected and enables better:
- Internal communication by creating a centralized platform for your employees to connect and stay updated—wherever they are in the world and whatever team they’re on.
- Side-by-side, collaborative remote working so everyone can work together at the same time, on the same documents, and view each other’s work. This builds a more cohesive team and helps you slay the beast of siloed work.
- Project management by giving your teams visibility over the progress of all the projects they’re working on—so everyone knows who needs to do what and by when.
- Skill sharing and training by providing a central platform to share knowledge and expertise. You can organize training materials, like online courses and webinars, to help your employees level up and learn valuable new skills. Plus showing you value their professional development is highly motivating.
There are a lot of apps out there that can help you inspire collaboration and simplify your workflows, and it can be hard to know which ones to choose. Here are our top three recommendations:
- Switchboard for cross-team collaboration and remote meetings: Switchboard is designed to improve real-time teamwork, connection, and productivity through intuitive meeting rooms that double as a virtual canvas. Your employees can create cloud-based virtual rooms for brainstorming, spontaneous meetings, and connecting with clients.
- Slack for communication: Slack is perfect for distributed teams that need to share information and files in real time. Your people can also start “team huddles” for more quick, informal chats.
- Notion for project management, knowledge sharing, and training: Notion lets you share files and collaborate through dedicated workspaces. It’s a great option for storing internal wikis in one place, for example.
Want to learn more about these tools and how you can use them to create a positive, connected work culture? Check out our guide to “3 internal collaboration tools to collaborate like a pro.”
2. Providing a stipend for their home office or coworking space
Providing an allowance lets remote employees set up their remote office so they can be productive. If people live in the same city, another option is to get together at a coworking space from time to time, which helps build relationships. Either way, it’s easier for your employees to focus on their work when they’re in the right environment. Helping them create that environment also demonstrates your commitment to supporting them and giving them what they need to succeed.
Here are some suggestions to do that:
- Set a budget: Rather than telling people what chair to get or which headphones are best, give each employee a budget and allow them to choose the tools that are most important to them. The size of the budget depends on your overall financial strategy, the size of your company, and the type of tools or perks you want to offer.
- Create a policy: Establish a straightforward policy that spells out the details of the stipend, including the amount, what it covers, and how it will be paid out or reimbursed.
- Communicate with your teams: Make sure your people are aware of the stipend and understand how it works. Let them know why you’ve allocated that stipend, and that you’re always available to answer any questions.
- Adjust the policy as needed. Keep on top of how your employees are using their stipend and whether it’s helping them do their best work. You can also run surveys or ask them directly for feedback.
Collaborative teamwork: The Holy Grail for remote leaders
Collaborative teams perform better. But when you’re spread around the world, you may need to work a little harder to recreate the spontaneous interactions and side-by-side working that unite in-person teams.
To get the best out of your people, you need to lead by example and create a company culture where everyone feels equally included and valued. The best ways to do that include establishing and living values that encourage teamwork, giving leaders what they need to lead, being transparent, and owning your mistakes.
You also need to empower your teams with an online workspace that’s designed to bring remote teams together to do their best work. With intuitive virtual canvases and “always open” meeting rooms that save your work, Switchboard transforms your team from isolated individuals to a productive, engaged group that has each other’s backs.
Build legendary collaborative teams destined for success.
Switchboard gives you the tools you need to help your teams achieve great things together.