Building a Collaborative Workplace Culture
Creating a collaborative workplace is a desire shared by many executives. Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes time, effort, and concrete steps to achieve such a culture. While it may be difficult to understand the current working conditions, we can all agree that having as many teammates by your side to reach the company's as well as your goals is in the best interest of everyone.
Find collaborative role models
In most traditional environments an organizer may jump to your mind as a role model of collaboration. This could be an HR rep or your division leader. The bottom line is to find someone who can help bridge the gap between other teammates who may not feel as comfortable reaching out to others. The behaviors the role models exhibit could be as simple as asking others if they need help with anything or asking a teammate what they think about a project they were assigned. It is important to recognize and emphasize the behaviors of your role models so the rest of the team can follow suit.
Overcome collaborative barriers
Make sure to discuss the most problematic barriers that prevent people from working together. Separate offices, time zones, and remote work can hinder collaboration. Set aside times or opportunities to meet and transcend these barriers. Whether you take a company trip with the other office or delegate a chatroom online where everyone is free to dump their ideas for all to see. Allowing teammates access to opportunities for collaboration will prevent them from feeling like they are overstepping their boundaries when they step up to collaborate.
There is always a reason not to do something. Instead of saying no and giving a reason why you cannot move forward with a task, try answering with a yes and what must be done to continue. For example, consider you are struggling to sell your service to a client. Instead of saying “no, we can’t sell to them right now because we are competing with too many other big companies.” Think, “yes, we can, if we can demonstrate why we can provide value superior to competitors.”
Share current projects
Sharing work in progress is a step towards greater collaboration. Innovation does not usually occur hunched over your desk in your cubicle alone. Sure, that may be how you can get a lot of your work done, but it is not the environment that breeds creativity. Sharing work while in progress can boost productivity not only because it gives you better ideas, but because it helps coworkers feel more included and that their opinion is valued.
Incentivize employees to collaborate
Employers typically implement an incentive plan of some kind tied to performance metrics such as sales made or time on staff. Too often aimed towards individuals rather than team milestones. What about an incentive plan that promotes collaboration? Pepsi bases 40% of employee’s annual bonuses on how well they have helped other fellow employees improve in their careers. Group incentives strengthen bonds for team members adding fuel to motivate them even further. It does not have to be a zero-sum game, and everyone can win if incentives are aligned.
By finding collaborative role models, overcoming barriers, sharing work while in progress, and incentivizing employees, you can help your team become more cohesive and develop a company culture focused on collaboration.