A collaborative working environment is often what marks a really successful workplace out from those that are just good or ok. Genuine teamwork and the sharing of ideas sound like the simplest of solutions but the reality is that collaboration can be hard to achieve. At the heart of it all is creating processes, culture and values that ensure everyone understands the basics of getting along with others. This is a set of skills that can be learned and, without it, true collaboration in the workplace is virtually impossible to achieve.
Fostering understanding provides the foundation for collaboration
At the heart of improvement in collaboration is the need to understand what it is that drives each of the teams within the business. What are their goals, thought processes and biases and how do attitudes and systems differ from one team to the next? Your PR team might be motivated by finding the right story to give to the media but for the product team it’s about understanding the customer or driving innovation. While the end goal for everyone is business success, each team is driven by different motivators and encouraging everyone to understand each other’s will set your business up for better ongoing collaboration.
The importance of incentives
If you’re looking to achieve change in the workplace then it’s crucial to start by explaining why. What’s the point of making these changes, what’s in it for employees who become more collaborative and exactly what are you looking for employees to do differently? It may be important to sit down with different teams and get an understanding of what each of their incentives are and what would motivate them to do things differently. If you understand and structure your incentives well then you’ll give staff the motivation to change until they start to see the benefits for themselves and the evolution becomes more natural.
Speaking the same language
It’s not just in terms of goals and incentives that teams can differ but communication style too. Teams within the business may communicate very differently and this can create significant roadblocks to collaboration. The key is to recognise the differences, and why they exist, and then encourage everyone to find common ground so that there is a way of communicating that makes people feel like they are speaking the same language.
Celebrating the differences
Collaboration doesn’t mean forcing everyone to be the same. Different teams within the business will necessarily do things their own way – in fact, that could be vital to overall success. Encourage staff to observe the way others within the business see the world, their roles, their issues and the enterprise as a whole. It’s through observing without judgement that staff will gain a better understanding of each other and be able to find ways to work together, share and improve each other’s working lives. The natural consequence of that will be improved productivity and results.
Collaboration doesn’t necessarily come naturally to humans, especially within a classic business structure. However, it is worth the effort to foster it in the workplace, as it is where the secret to true business success really lies. Get in touch with Enterprise Study today to find out how we can help.