In order for any organization to be successful there must be healthy communication and cohesion within teams. Collaboration is fundamental in achieving the best results by relying on the combined talents and strengths of individuals and other departments. By fostering a culture of open dialogue and efficient practices, your team will succeed in creating value for your organization. Here are six ways you can get the most out of your collaborative efforts:

1. Set Expectations

Let your team know the specific duration and purpose of your meetings. This respects everyone's time and allows them to come to the meeting prepared to contribute. Having unclear parameters can decrease focus, participation, and potentially derail productive conversation. Eliminate this by having an agenda planned ahead of time so you can steer the ship back to its intended course. Giving the team a clear, collective vision makes everyone's work valuable and important.

2. Have Better Meetings

Not every meeting needs to be a blocked off one-hour window on the Google calendar. Keep meetings short and sweet. Encourage group members to summarize points. If you're notorious for being longwinded, remember to save your team the labor pains and just give them the baby. Implementing a daily standing team meeting (standing to encourage brevity) at the same time each day is a great way for everyone to be on the same page. This allows team members to hear everyone's responsibilities and availabilities that day/week. This is an opportunity for sharing new ideas and celebrating individual and team wins, creating a culture of positive reinforcement and team growth.

3. Annotate Meeting Minutes

During a meeting, have key information and individual responsibilities transcribed and sent out in an email immediately following its end. This can be done by the project leader themselves, or assigned to another team member. It’s far too easy after a meeting to jump back into work or run to another meeting, only to have trouble later recalling what was discussed or what the action items are moving forward.

4. Invest in the Right Tools

If your meetings consist of several remote workers, it would be wise to invest in video conferencing software. Having the video option provides visual cues and better communication that a standard conference call fails to deliver. Effective tools for collaboration don't have to be on the cutting edge of technology. Using a white board and post-it notes is not only inexpensive, it’s an effective way to organize thoughts and ideas.

5. Permit Healthy Conflict

Many times, people tend to stray away from confrontation because they don't want to make someone feel uncomfortable or risk offending. Healthy disagreements can bring to light issues and problems that may be present and otherwise left unaddressed. When people withhold honest criticism for fear of upsetting another party this negatively effects productive collaboration.

6. Cultivate a Positive Environment

Be mindful how you manage your collaborative processes. Do not allow meetings to be dominated by seagulls. Seagulls fly in, defecate on everything, then leave. These are people who attend meetings with only complaints and problems while providing zero solutions. Encourage creativity and reward great ideas.