By Neeti Jain, Content Consultant
The quest for creative and innovative solutions has many organisations looking for effective techniques to become more collaborative. Companies that want to survive in this competitive era must have the conditions to innovate. This means the ability to identify trends, come up with ideas and always have an ongoing commitment.
A collaborative culture provides every employee a platform to contribute ideas into the process making innovation a shared responsibility. A feeling of community and involvement is created when employees believe they are an integral part of the team effort.
Collaboration leads to fully engaged employees eager to take on new projects, embrace change not as a challenge but as an opportunity. Subsequently, higher employee engagement lowers employee turnover.
Collaboration is one key ingredient that an organisation must-have for all the elements – talent, innovation, productivity and profitability to fall into place.
If collaboration is so beneficial, why aren’t companies able to achieve a successful collaborative culture?
“We bought this new software. So now we’re a collaborative culture!” – this has become the solution to creating a successful collaborative culture. In reality, it takes a lot more than just incorporating software.
Collaboration seems like an easy concept, right? Team members start talking, ideas start flowing and the team is more productive. If only it were that easy. Even when employees are good at collaboration, they might hold back on doing it in their workplace. This happens when managers direct every move and don’t trust their employees enough to collaborate with them. It also happens when employees do not feel safe speaking up or voice their opinions.
Employees notice something as being of value only when it is consistently recognised. Collaboration in companies is often not seen as something that happens daily – it’s not what employees are evaluated and rewarded for. Therefore, employees don’t have the motivation to collaborate.
Moreover, some organisations end up having cultures of silos that compete against each other instead of collaborating and sharing. This hinders collaborative culture too.
So, how can a collaborative culture be promoted in the workplace?
- Listen: A large part of successful collaboration is based on listening to one another, making sure that everyone feels heard and acknowledged. When an individual prioritises listening, they learn much quicker and can identify key gaps. It also helps to build trust, thus leading to better relationships.
- Set ground rules and goals: Setting goals along with rules is necessary to keep everyone on track and focused on what’s in hand. Goals should be iterated at the beginning of every collaboration meeting so that everyone is aligned. Rules create a structure for a process.
- Be open to diverse viewpoints: There are various personalities and experiences in a team, everyone will have a different perspective. To create a successful collaborative culture, employees should respect diverse viewpoints and understand that everyone has a different way of looking at situations.
What can every person do to build a collaborative team?
- Communicate: Share ideas with co-workers, managers and everyone else in the team. Communicating ideas is a way to understand how people think in different situations and discover new perspectives. Teams communicating well is a sign of a highly collaborative culture.
- Integrate into the workflow: Collaboration should not be an occasional event or an extra task. It should be a part of a company and should fit naturally into the flow of work.
- Visualise: Teams that visualise exactly where they want to go and what they want to achieve together are collaborative in nature. The incorporation of visuals to communicate ideas is a simple way to promote thinking and planning.
- Acknowledge: When building collaborative relationships in a team, one crucial aspect is constructive feedback. When team members feel appreciated, they develop a better collaborative relationship.
- Adapt & Evolve: To survive in the current business world, adaptation to new trends and the evolution of new ideas is a necessity. Collaboration is a never-ending strategy and an organisation that combats with and adapts to change is highly collaborative in all aspects.
- Share Resources: Every team member possesses resources that can be helpful to others. When resources such as ideas, experiences and perspectives are shared rather than hoarded with an individual, the whole team benefits.
- Transparency and Knowledge Sharing: Collaborative cultures are truly transparent where leaders freely share news and information, whether it’s good or not. Not discussing the setbacks and failures creates an atmosphere of rumours and impacts the trust in the team. In a collaborative culture, the most important thing isn’t that the team always wins, it is that the whole team learns together.
A collaborative culture is integral for all organisations whether they are a start-up, a small-medium enterprise or a multinational company with employees across the globe. Collaboration is about exploring and generating new ideas, it is not just a single event – it is something that needs to be consistent and ingrained into the process and attitude of how people do their everyday work.
This article is adapted from our programme “The keys to inclusive & effective collaboration” which is available on our learning platform Include LXP. This program enables you to look at day-to-day behaviours that enable you to build inclusion and as a result higher quality collaboration in teams. To find out more about how this and other programmes can be made available to employees in your organisation, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Photo by Canva
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