4 Types of Collaboration Styles to Use in the Workplace

Effective collaboration is the key to high-functioning workplaces. Learn how you can use different collaboration styles to drive performance and productivity.

Together Team

Published on 

August 22, 2023

Updated on 

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79% of employees today use collaboration tools to connect with their peers. With the rise of remote work and hybrid work, it is no surprise that organizations have embraced technology for enhanced collaboration.

But, collaboration is not just about adding Zoom and Slack to your technology stack.

Effective collaboration is the key to high-functioning workplaces. It fosters innovation, improves productivity, and cultivates a sense of unity and camaraderie. In short, collaboration leads to organizational success. 

But fostering workplace collaboration can be challenging for organizational leaders, as they have to navigate a maze of human dynamics, organizational structures, and evolving workplace trends. There are four major types of collaboration styles, and understanding them can help you choose the one best suited for your workplace.

What are collaboration styles?

Just as people have unique personalities, they also have distinct collaboration styles that impact how they work with teammates, share ideas, and contribute to a common goal. 

For example, an extroverted individual who thrives in group settings would prefer open dialogue when working within a team. On the other hand, an introverted individual who excels at conducting research and providing in-depth insights would prefer more structured, asynchronous communication with their team members. 

This difference in an individual’s preferred approach and behaviors when working together with others refers to their collaboration style. If you recognize each team member’s preferred collaboration style, you will be able to set them up for success.

That said, team collaboration is a different beast entirely. Your team will likely have multiple people with multiple preferences, and sticking to just one style of collaboration can affect the team environment negatively.

4 types of collaboration styles

Having an understanding of different types of collaboration styles and how to blend them to suit the diverse strengths and perspectives of team members is a critical skill for managers and HR professionals. The following collaboration styles aren't mutually exclusive, and you can use a combination of these styles based on your specific goals, culture, and nature of work.

1. Communication-oriented collaboration

This style emphasizes effective communication among team members. It involves open sharing of ideas, opinions, and information. Teams with a communication-oriented collaboration style tend to prioritize discussions, meetings, and regular updates. The goal is to ensure everyone is informed and aligned, which fosters a sense of transparency and inclusivity.

This style is suitable when a team needs to make sure that all members are informed about ongoing projects, updates, and changes. It helps maintain alignment and transparency within the team. For example, marketing teams regularly hold weekly brainstorming sessions to discuss upcoming campaigns and share creative ideas. 

2. Task-oriented collaboration

In this style, collaboration revolves around achieving specific tasks, goals, or projects. Team members focus on their individual responsibilities and contribute their expertise to complete the assigned tasks. This style requires clear task delegation, well-defined roles, and a structured approach to project management. Task-oriented collaboration is often found in project-based or deadline-driven environments.

This style is ideal for projects with specific deliverables and deadlines. It ensures that each team member knows their responsibilities and contributes their expertise towards completing the project on time. For example, engineering teams working on developing new apps have clearly defined roles, regular progress check-ins, and a project timeline. 

Engineering teams usually use the Scrum methodology for agile collaboration. In scrum, work is organized into time-bound iterations (sprints), which typically last two to four weeks. Scrum is the most commonly practiced example of task-oriented collaboration in the software world, where the product owner defines the tasks that need to be accomplished, the scrum master facilitates the process, and the development team carries out the tasks collaboratively.

3. Network-oriented collaboration

Network-oriented collaboration emphasizes building and leveraging professional relationships within and outside the organization. This style involves connecting with individuals across different departments, teams, and even external partners. The goal is to tap into diverse expertise, gather varied perspectives, and facilitate knowledge sharing. This style is particularly useful in fostering innovation and accessing a broader pool of resources.

By connecting with a wide range of professionals, the team can access diverse knowledge and stay at the forefront of their field. For example, research and development (R&D) teams regularly attend industry conferences and collaborate with external experts to stay updated on the latest advancements in their field.

4. Community-oriented collaboration

This style focuses on creating a sense of community and shared purpose within the workplace. It involves building a positive and supportive team culture, where members collaborate based on shared values and a sense of belonging. This collaboration style enhances employee engagement, teamwork, and overall well-being. Community-oriented collaboration is often seen in organizations that prioritize employee satisfaction and a strong organizational culture.

This style is particularly beneficial in organizations where a strong sense of camaraderie and shared values contribute to overall well-being and productivity. For example, nonprofit organizations have a strong sense of shared purpose among its members. In successful nonprofit organizations, team members support each other's initiatives and regularly organize team-building activities.

eBook How To Fast-Track Employee Learning With Colleague Connections  

Types of collaborators in the workplace

To use a combination of collaboration styles at an organizational level, you also need to understand individual collaboration styles. When it comes to individuals, there are four main types of collaborators:

Drivers, the leaders of the group

Drivers are goal-focused and assertive leaders who proactively push teams with urgency. They excel in tasks that require decisiveness and thrive when given leadership roles and opportunities for direct communication.

Drivers prefer a combination of the task-oriented and communication-oriented collaboration styles. They thrive in environments where tasks are well-defined, roles are clear, and progress is measurable. Plus, regular updates, discussions, and direct communication allow them to maintain a sense of urgency and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Analysts, the thinkers of the group

Analysts are meticulous, logical thinkers who excel in data analysis and research. Supporting their collaboration involves clear objectives, structured communication, and tasks that leverage their detail-oriented approach.

Analysts are likely to prefer a combination of the task-oriented and community-oriented collaboration styles. Analysts' detail-oriented and logical nature aligns well with a focus on well-defined tasks and objectives. Their preference for accuracy and understanding intricacies can be supported by a community-like environment where team members share insights and knowledge.

Connectors, the glue that holds the team together

Connectors excel in building relationships and enhancing team cohesion through interpersonal skills. Supporting their collaboration involves team-building activities, networking opportunities, and recognition of their role in fostering camaraderie.

Connectors would likely prefer a combination of the network-oriented and community-oriented collaboration styles. They thrive when given the opportunity to connect with people from different teams, departments, and external networks. They also enjoy creating a sense of belonging and team cohesion, which contributes to a positive work environment.

Innovators, the visionaries that improve processes and products

Innovators are imaginative creators who thrive on pushing boundaries, brainstorming, and coming up with new ideas. To support their collaboration style, offer resources for experimentation, platforms for idea-sharing, and opportunities for collaborative brainstorming.

Innovators would likely prefer a combination of the communication-oriented and task-oriented collaboration styles. That’s because regular discussions can help them bounce ideas off others and they thrive when given the opportunity to work on projects that allow for creative problem-solving.

How to choose the right collaboration style for your team

You likely have a group of drivers, analysts, connectors, innovators, and people who do not exclusively belong to any of the groups and have the qualities of many. Here’s what you should do to choose a collaboration style that caters to all members of your team.

1. Assess team composition

Begin by recognizing the dominant traits of your team members. Do you have proactive and results-driven individuals who thrive on pushing tasks forward? Or are there meticulous analysts who excel in detailed research? Identifying these traits will provide a foundation for choosing a complementary collaboration style.

2. Consider task complexity

Analyze the nature of your projects. For tasks requiring clear objectives and measurable outcomes, a task-oriented collaboration style might be fitting. On the other hand, if creativity and brainstorming are central to your projects, a communication-oriented or innovative approach might be more effective.

3. Evaluate interpersonal dynamics

Team dynamics matter. If your team bonds well and thrives on a sense of camaraderie, a community-oriented style can enhance cohesion. If relationship-building is crucial, especially when interacting with external stakeholders, a network-oriented approach could prove advantageous.

4. Blend styles where needed

As we mentioned before, these collaboration styles aren't mutually exclusive. Combining elements of different styles can harness the strengths of diverse team members. For instance, using task-oriented practices alongside communication-oriented ones can create a balanced environment that encourages focus and idea-sharing.

5. Adapt and refine

Collaboration styles should be flexible and adaptable. Regularly assess their effectiveness and solicit feedback from team members. Adjustments can be made to align with project requirements, team growth, and evolving goals.

Boost collaboration with Together’s mentoring platform

Peer learning or mentoring is a great way to create a cycle of learning and collaboration. It not only facilitates skill development and productivity, but also helps your team build trust, rapport, and respect with each other while fostering a culture of feedback, learning, and innovation. Promote collaboration at your workplace by setting up a mentoring program.

When setting up a mentorship program for your team, it is important to align the collaboration styles of mentors and mentees. Mentoring software, such as Together, can streamline and enhance your mentorship program. The platform uses algorithms to match mentors and mentees based on various factors, such as skills, goals, and interests. It also provides insights into the effectiveness of the mentoring program by tracking engagement, satisfaction, and program outcomes.

Ready to unlock collaboration? Book a demo with Together's mentorship platform

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