Cultivating Collaboration in the Workplace
The notion of collaboration is nothing new to any progressive workplace. Collaboration is the stuff that binds a team together and allows new skills and opportunities to present themselves. As the workplace becomes ever more flexible, more connected and more digital, it is important to keep in mind what forms the basis of effective collaboration, and how to harness its potential in an increasingly fast-paced environment.
Thanks to technology and the ubiquity of digital communication tools, connecting with one another in a work environment has seemingly never been simpler. However, regardless of technology advances, good collaboration between team members, departments and managers will always still rely on organisation and openness between people.
To best cultivate a culture of collaboration in your workplace, you need to first encourage the creation of a platform for open and driven communication.
Clearly communicate open communication expectations
To cultivate a strong and ongoing culture of collaboration, the first step needs to be setting this as the base level of expectation among all team members and leaders. Every team member needs to not only understand their own position, but also the position and responsibilities of those around them. In a collaborative environment, each team member will be aware of what their responsibilities are and how these form part of the greater whole around them.
By clearly communicating to both new and existing team members the wider company expectations that go along with being a part of the team, each person will be on the same page moving forward with any changes, developments or projects.
Set team goals
We are huge advocates for personal and professional goal setting for individuals. Additionally, we are also big advocates for setting regular S.M.A.R.T. team goals.
Ensure these goals are concise, measurable and set at least on a quarterly basis. By having each team focus on goals, individual efforts will stay on track while also aligning group efforts with desired larger outcomes. Team members that feel they are working collectively towards some larger goal will feel more connected to each step towards these larger goals and will also be more invested in the final outcome of their individual efforts.
Encourage a creative atmosphere
Some of the most successful companies in the world are renowned for their creative structures and processes (think on Google and Apple). By allowing team members the opportunity to regularly brainstorm and question in an open and non-judgmental framework, you are encouraging new strategies and solutions to appear, as opposed to focusing on the current roadblocks of a problem.
By nurturing a ‘can do’ attitude and encouraging resourcefulness in your environment you are sending a message to each team member that clearly indicates how important their input and opinion is to the future of the organisation.
Provide social opportunities
Although people are expected to be working when they are at work, human beings are social and curious creatures. We need to feel that we are accepted and acknowledged by those around us to feel comfortable and safe. Along with this feeling of safety comes an accompanying space to think creatively, be ourselves and perform at our peak.
By providing a space for regular social activities in your space you are allowing team members to get to know one another better so they feel more comfortable and more capable of working together. Different personality dynamics, skill sets and experiences will be present in each team. By getting to know one another better, team members will be able to draw on one another’s skill sets to complete projects more effectively and more efficiently.
Leverage the strengths in your team
Position each team member to achieve the most they can by assigning them to tasks that will allow them to succeed. Reward both individual and team accomplishments with acknowledgement, both public and private if the team member is comfortable with this attention.
Establishing a collaboration culture is only the beginning. Collaboration has to be at the forefront of leaders’ minds – it has to be a consistent policy based on openness, mutual respect and a willingness to listen to others. Instead of focusing on just your team members who are excelling, a culture of collaboration calls for the focus to be shifted onto the performance and development of all those who are in your organisation. After all, if everyone who has a voice and a new idea in your team is able to speak and act, imagine the possibilities for performance and productivity that can bring.