“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth1
Collaboration in any environment thrives on collective success. True collaboration is when everyone involved helps each other and enjoys a shared growth. The journey to success requires, the intention to succeed, resources, and most importantly the right environment. That is, a collaborative surrounding where individuals support one another for their group achievements rather than individual ones.
In a collaborative culture, employees enjoy trust, ownership to help others in their work, and greater alignment to help the company achieve its goals. Such a culture further leads to employees feeling a sense of belongingness and positively influences their performance. Also, in a collaborative culture employees discuss problems constructively and engage in open discussions, in addition to helping each other and building common success.
The whats and whys of Collaboration?
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford1
According to a survey by Queens University, 79% consider teamwork and collaboration as “very important” 2. Another study found that 86% of employees feel that lack of collaboration is the reason behind workplace failures3. But, how to define collaboration in an organisation? In simplest terms, it means two or more people working together towards a common objective. Thus, higher the collaboration, higher the harmony between people towards achieving company goals.
What makes people collaborate with each other? To begin with, the right tools, adequate time and money are a necessity. Robert Half Technology conducted a survey that showed employees waste around 22 minutes each day on computer related issues. Only 27% of the surveyed people believed their technology infrastructure, such as computers, network connectivity, intranet, and other equipment, was excellent4. Companies need to provide employees with the right tools so they can focus on their work instead of absent pencils. If the basics are absent for an individual, the probability to help and collaborate with others decreases, and that of self-interest increases.
In a Stanford Study, it was found that employees who were motivated to collaborate, persisted with their tasks 64% more, had better engagement, lower fatigue rate, and had higher success rates. “The results showed that simply feeling like you’re part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges”5.
Companies also need to work towards creating a place that encourages open and honest communication. This is important because people cannot collaborate if they do not understand each other, and employees cannot understand one another well without effective communication channels in place. Furthermore, 99.1% employees prefer a workplace where people discuss about their issues honestly and effectively, and less than 50% said that this actually takes place6. Clearly, it is one area that requires more attention.
Collaboration is an important factor for employees to feel enabled. In an environment of trust and openness, employees feel safer and less stressed. This can occur if the thought of competitiveness is replaced with collectiveness.
How to induce Collaboration in your company’s culture?
Collaboration means reaching towards success faster, and is thus, desired by employers. Marriot International “Jam” is a social collaboration and communication tool7. It gives the team a platform where they can share thoughts, ideas, and information with one another. It includes opportunity for mentoring, problem solving, brainstorming, blogging, following people, etc., and in this way, Jam brings its employees closer together and thus, aligns them better.
Collaboration cannot work without holistic effort from organization to work towards it. Culture becomes an important indicator and inspiration for teamwork and collaboration. As mentioned above, communication is key, as its absence may lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, which eventually leads to lower harmony. Employees should be encouraged to speak up. A culture of open communication and exchange of ideas should be encouraged for collaboration to flourish. In addition, employees should support each other in their work, celebrate each other’s successes and solve company issues together.
“Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.” – Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer, i4cp5
Collaborative behaviors get inculcated in the company, if employees see real action being taken towards this step. For instance there are two ways a company may use to promote open communication. First, by communicating that employees should feel free to come to the leaders to share their ideas. Second, by holding separate and regular meetings for the said purpose. What would work better? Though, there is nothing wrong with the former thought, the latter speaks volumes about a company’s willingness to do something about an issue. This intent creates an impact in its employees, and thus, behaving is more important than just having the intent.
Take steps and enjoy results collectively
Everyone in a company works towards a common goal and in a collaborative culture a company is set to achieve these results faster. For that to be a reality, companies ought to take responsibility from their end to provide its employees with things necessary for collaborative culture. For instance, clarity of department, and individual goals, i.e., ‘what is expected of whom’ is crucial. Furthermore, if employees are aware of the company mission, vision, and values, they are more likely to be in sync with each other. It creates an alignment and one where every team member performs in a consistent manner aligning to company’s values.
Undoubtedly, if companies give employees what is necessary, they will receive more than their expectations. Thus, for their employees to transcend, companies need to create a culture that takes cares of the basic requirements so a collaborative culture can thrive.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know how we are helping organization to embed Collaboration in across peer groups (Individuals, Middle Managers, and Senior Managers). One recipe doesn’t fit all. Create one that suits best for your organization 🙂