How can I increase collaboration within my workforce?
Collaboration is the act of two or more people coming together to achieve a task or common goal. It sounds simple enough. But collaboration across your organisation can be hard to achieve.
Effective collaboration involves a team of people being able to work together and communicate well, communication within your teams and across departments is essential to ensure performance success. As the saying goes, “two heads are better than one”.
So how can collaboration be improved?
Strive for cooperation not competition!
Collaboration relies upon cooperation. It relies on teams of people communicating and working together towards a collective goal. Having a few star performers, which may lead to short term gains, does not allow for support and collaboration. Star performers may in fact be more focused on their individual success, rather than on the team’s successes, or that of the organisation. This can lead to a toxic working environment – there is no place for self-centred attitudes in a collaborative workplace.
Increase diversity within your teams
Having a diverse team, increases the chance of innovation. Having team members that have a wide variety of strengths, skills and weaknesses, often equates to a wider breadth of knowledge.
Teams with members of different ages, gender and ethnicity perform better up to 35% than uniform teams.
However, it is also important that your team members are not too different to one another. To work together there needs to be some ‘common ground’ or some opportunities for connection.
The most important thing here is to understand your people. Without understanding the skillsets of your employees’, ‘what makes them tick’, their personalities and their values, it will be difficult to establish how they will communicate and collaborate within a team.
Here at MyPeople, we believe trust to be THE critical factor when it comes to team performance. A team must trust one another to be able to perform at its best. By building trust, the barriers to collaboration come down.
Team members must feel comfortable and safe enough to contribute their ideas and thoughts freely without any fear of judgement. If a team member is scared to speak up, or in fear of making a mistake, collaboration will stall.
Unless your team trusts one another and has trust in both the leadership, and the organisation (as a whole), levels of collaboration will suffer.
Team building exercises help your team to get to know one another. It is important team members understand each other and are given opportunities to build relationships.
The current COVID-19 pandemic means many teams are not meeting face-to-face, however there are plenty of opportunities to help your team get to know each other virtually. We previously shared some of our favourite ideas here.
The danger however, with virtual teams, is that collaboration has a habit of declining. Whilst not meeting in person, the chance meetings over the coffee machine, or taking lunch together means that prior opportunities to build relationships are not happening in the same way. Therefore, it is important that leaders and management TAKE ACTION to mitigate this risk.
Measures that leaders and managers could take include:
- Virtual meetups with teams
- Allowing opportunities for teams to get to know one another (team quizzes, questionnaires etc)
- Ensure a policy of listening and respect – ensuring every member of the team feels valued.
Most importantly however, is the view from management that socialising outside of work matters.
Encourage your team to socialise outside of work and offer them means of communication when working remotely.
Create a sense of shared purpose and align your people to it
As we touched on earlier – collaboration is the act of coming together to achieve a common goal. Therefore, having an organisational purpose is important. Everyone within your company needs to know WHY they are performing specific tasks, and what their role is within the ‘larger picture’.
Creating goals that cascade throughout the hierarchy of the business, means that goal achievement is dependent on other goals being met. This means that different departments, and those with different roles, are required to communicate with one another. We go into this in much more depth here (we recommend having a read).
Additionally, encourage cross-departmental updates and meetings in which members of departments present what they are working on. All employees then gain a sense of understanding of what each team is working on, which in turn encourages relationship building, information sharing and communication across the organisation. Rather than a culture of ‘silos’, there is a sense of collective belonging.
Recognise and reward collaborative behaviour!
Recognise when your teams work collaboratively and recognise when they take steps to help one another (especially when a task might not necessarily come under their job description). Positive recognition goes a long way in boosting employee morale!
In times of change, (thank you 2020/2021) a highly collaborative team is essential. Through collaborative means, teams are better able to handle change, by supporting one another and sharing their expertise with one another.
Without understanding your team and investing in building trust, increasing collaboration will be tough. By measuring team behaviours, relationships, and team alignment, one can better understand your people and your team. Trust in your team, and trust in the people decisions you make.
Want more info? Email us and find out more about how to create a sense of shared purpose at your business!