“Collaboration” is one of those buzz-words we hear a lot about these days. Of course, a company’s internal operations (and, for that matter, its customer-facing processes) should be driven by teamwork and interdepartmental cooperation; it just makes good business sense. But once you get beyond what looks good on paper, the unfortunate truth is that collaboration still remains just out of reach for many organizations.
Why? Reasons may include a lack of top-down transparency, a pervasive misjudgment of the company’s vision and mission, or an insufficient level of skills needed to work productively together.
Whatever the reason, building a collaborative culture is more important than ever before. To put it bluntly, without collaboration and innovation, a business may become devoured by the competition. Here are action steps to take to avert this dire scenario:
Invite your team to take part in the hiring process.
Chances are your current crop of employees have a pretty good idea about who will be a good fit within your organization. When you invite them to participate in hiring new employees, “team members get to look at their potential co-workers and provide feedback about candidates, turning the hiring process itself into a form of collective collaboration,” notes OnPoint Consulting LLC. It’s likely they’ll offer a fresh perspective on recruitment and hiring that can benefit everyone involved.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, it’s vitally important to keep all team members up to date on key issues affecting your business. “The alternative—a workplace rife with suspicion, rumors, and guesswork about the future—is bad across the board,” and certainly works against a spirit of collaboration. Your employees can be trusted to support—and, at times, initiate—change when they understand what’s going on.
Provide cross-functional opportunities that foster collaboration.
There’s really no place left in today’s marketplace for a company filled with “silos.” It’s imperative that business leaders provide opportunities for differing teams or departments to work more closely together. This may require some initial training up-front for employees not quite ready to work with another department, but it’s worth the effort.
Consider appointing cross-functional teams to tackle a nagging business challenge while providing the tools and resources needed to achieve a favorable outcome. There may be bumps along the way, but everyone within the organization will likely benefit from expanded knowledge and skills.
Entrepreneur suggests holding daily team huddles, “where each member discusses their goals and objectives for the day.” This basic but compelling exercise “helps to avoid duplication of effort” and enables “team members to re-direct their efforts as needed.
Redesign your workplace environment.
Cubicles and closed office doors work against the spirit of collaboration. As much as possible, explore ways to change the workplace environment to include reconfigurable desks, an open floor plan, so-called “walking desks,” and other physical designs that encourage stronger teamwork and greater productivity. A workplace that promotes collaboration often spurs fresh perspectives and insights when dealing with difficult operational issues, as well as potential breakthrough ideas for product upgrades and other innovations.
“Collaboration” is much more than just another buzz-word. It represents the huge leap forward that every business can take when people work together as a high-functioning team, rather than as separate or sealed-off units. Your competitors are probably exploring these opportunities. You should do the same.
What is your company doing to build a collaborative culture that attracts and retains the best talent out there? Check out our free TAB Boss Webinar, “Culture—If You Build It, They Will Stay,” to learn more about leveraging the strengths and opportunities that exist in your organizational culture.