How to use technology to increase your ability to work in a team structure

To work well as a team, people need to communicate and collaborate effectively together.  Brainstorming, sharing resources and ideas, providing criticism…the list goes on.  I don’t want to tell you how to work well in a team environment, I want to tell you how to use technology to make you a better team player.

Some things to consider:

  1. Communication – Make yourself accessible and open to different means of communication.  Between email, telephone, instant message, in person meetings and formal presentations, you need to be accessible to your team to work together.  Do this by understanding the pros and cons of each communication type and using the right one in each case
  2. Collaboration – There are a number of apps and services that understand that a part of teamwork is collaborating on documents and presentations.  Rather than having one person in charge of writing everything down, it’s becoming more popular for everyone to have the ability to update files together, at the same time.  Have you ever tried to open a document while someone else was editing it and got the “John Smith is currently editing this document – open it as read only“?  This results in lost ideas and wasted time.  What’s worse are long email chains with different versions of the same document being passed back and forth.  The file changes hands so many times that by the time you are done there are 5 different copies and none of them contain all of the information.
  3. Presenting Ideas – In a group setting it is important that you have the opportunity to get your thoughts and ideas across in a way that other people can understand.  Sometimes words aren’t the only way to get ideas across.  Are you comfortable drawing pictures? How about graphs and charts?  Well the good news is that you don’t have to be.  This exact problem has been tackled by many companies, and they have incorporated easy tools to help you create effective illustrations to get your point across.  In Microsoft’s PowerPoint alone there are a number of really great drawing tools including inserting simple illustrations and Word Art.  You can also import graphs from Excel files.