Organisations need collaboration more than ever, but it’s often confused for teamwork, or overlooked as simply cooperation. If done well, truly collaborative teams can have the ability to develop and bring products to the market much more quickly, improve organisational flexibility through breaking down silos, and enable productive, energised meetings.
Elium believe that collaboration should be a process ingrained in the very fabric of your organisation, helping to leverage collective intelligence globally.
We understand it’s not easy, though, and often fails if:
Productivity is valued over creativity
Employees can feel pressure to be productive, rather than creative, in group discussions, which encourages them to agree quickly. This inhibits them from considering other ideas, or risking putting their own forward – even if they might have more potential. This can lead to poor, underdeveloped decisions, groupthink, and employees feeling as if they do not have a voice.
To cure this, build trust in your teams by encouraging meetings to be a safe space; share vulnerability, welcome all ideas and allow employees to openly express their fears, disagree and think creatively.
Achievements go unnoticed
When teams are working together on projects, individual expertise can seem to go overlooked and undervalued. This takes away the incentive for employees to work hard, and can lead to resentment.
By sharing with your employees the organisation’s vision and creating actionable targets, the team can more deeply understand how their personal talents and skills will help the organisation reach broader goals. This helps by providing a shared purpose, but rewarding team members by showcasing their talents to the rest of the team and stakeholders can also help them feel more valued.
Employees are not trained equally
Organisations often focus their resources on training only those in leadership roles on how to collaborate effectively. This may seem logical, but all team members need to know the importance of collaborative behaviours to create a truly collaborative team. Restricting resources can also spark unhealthy competition and resentment among team members, which can stifle creativity.
If global training is not feasible, your role as a leader is vital in order to inspire your team from the top down, through sharing and encouraging collaborative habits to strengthen your team.
Communication is poor
For employees to share and build ideas, as well as to take on feedback, strong communication is vital. Without it, silos can form, morale can dip and organisation expectations go unmet. For your team to collaborate, all members need to know what’s expected of them, and how best to share their contributions.
Agreement on what needs to be shared, when and by what means, can revolutionise poor communication and allow everyone to be on the same page.
Remote teams are not supported
Now that the workplace is no longer fixed, your teams are free to work across countries and time zones. This can make collaboration a little harder, depending on the digital tools you have in place to support them. Chat tools like Slack work well for real-time communication, but create a lot of noise.
To support remote teams, a knowledge sharing platform can help, especially with the integration of cloud-based collaboration tools such as Google Suite or Office 365. These provide a predefined space and means to support collaboration, wherever you are, with real-time feedback and contributions from your team.
Can you see any of these barriers emerging in your organisation? Don’t panic.
Recognising where the issues lie and where your efforts should be focused is the first step to building a collaborative culture. Overall, it is clear that for efficient collaboration, teams need the freedom to be vulnerable, to trust each other and be able to invest themselves fully in collective efforts and ideas. Offering transparency to your team can clarify poor communication, open them up to creativity and help them feel valued.
Large companies like Capgemini Invent, BNP Paribas and SNCF Consulting have launched a range of initiatives to develop their collaborative culture, from the use of a dedicated knowledge sharing platform to team reorganisation, inspiring a shift in employees’ attitudes. Next time, we’ll be exploring how these companies created their collaborative workplace culture and how you can build your own.