Collaboration. It seems like such an easy concept to grasp and embrace, particularly as it pertains to the teamwork required to run and grow a successful company. But then why do so many so many business owners, leadership teams and organizations struggle to foster a culture of collaboration? Is working together in an orchestrated effort really that hard?
Well, it sure can be.
And the reasons are many. For instance, organizations with a hybrid working model are particularly vulnerable to poor collaboration, as WFH employees and office workers are partitioned by distance, not to mention access to leadership. Departments might be siloed causing disconnection. Perhaps meetings are poorly run and are not designed for input, alignment and consensus. Maybe there is a lack of positive and transparent communications.
All these negative factors suggest a poor collaboration strategy, which can have a massive negative impact on productivity, profitability and employee retention.
- Nearly 9 out of 10 employees blame lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures.
- Employees working in collaborative settings are 50% more effective at completing tasks than those working independently.
- Businesses with connected teams reduce employee turnover rates by 50%.
- Workplace collaboration increases productivity by 25% or more.
A collaborative culture is rife with environmental assets beyond the standard goal of everyone communicating and getting along. While harmony and interaction are important, the true power of collaboration is that it inspires innovation, enhances processes and substantially boosts productivity. Apart from those with a fiercely independent persona, just about everyone throughout your organization will find a collaborative work environment both agreeable and advantageous.
There are numerous ways to incorporate collaborative measures in your business. Hold regular all-hands or departmental brainstorming sessions, create mixed-skills teams that leverage diverse skills to meet objectives, and consider ditching isolating office cubes for a more communal workspace. All these tactics can be effective in building collaboration throughout your business; however, a collaborative culture exists at a much higher level than specific implementations. A collaborative environment is more akin to a collective vibration that engages and inspires everyone throughout your organization.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” ~Henry Ford
3 Ways To Create a Culture of Collaboration
Every business is unique, but there are effective, almost universal approaches to enhancing alignment and engagement while establishing workplace collaboration.
1. Define Goals & Objectives
A culture of collaboration, like most business objectives, starts by defining it and identifying its Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Therefore, collaboration has to be tangible and measurable. Your KPIs might reflect productivity, profitability and employee retention benchmarks. While innovation itself can be challenging to track, measurables like the number of new product launches or service offerings are trackable. Be sure to discuss collaboration expectations in your interviewing and onboarding processes, and include the philosophy in your employee handbook.
2. Leadership Needs To Walk the Walk
Collaborative leaders value and seek diverse opinions, which builds engagement, trust and alignment throughout their organizations. As opposed to their authoritative counterparts, collaborative leaders lean strongly on open communication, transparency and respect. They build strategies and solve problems based on the contribution of many rather than the input of a few. Leaders who model collaboration are rewarded with employees who feel more connected and who take ownership of their work.
3. Incentivize, Incentivize, Incentivize
Speaking of rewards, incentivization can often spur even your most independent employee to embrace collaborative efforts. Consider recognizing and rewarding both individual achievements and team accomplishments – but with the emphasis on group results. By toning down competition between individuals while incentivizing your teams to succeed together, your employees are more likely to support and nurture a collaborative company culture.
And that just might be the true secret to business success.