We’ve been discussing what true collaboration looks like when it happens as a part of company culture. A few weeks ago, we wrote about what it doesn’t look like, with regard to the waves of collaboration software hitting the market. So, what does your culture need in order for employees to truly collaborate?
A Known Environment of Respect
People in your company should understand they have a voice, and their input is not only being heard but also respected. This respect is much more than telling employees not to laugh at each other’s ideas or questions. It’s a multi-dimensional respect that implies reciprocation, thoughtful response and action based on their ideas.
Creating such an environment involves providing the right type of leadership and rewarding and recognizing employees for their contribution. Employees only speak up if they know leadership is receptive. It should be understood in your office that each person’s input is of value. Only then can your company move forward with a complete perspective, accounting for as many directions as possible.
Employees want to contribute. Think about how many ideas you have throughout the day to improve processes as small as your email writing techniques and as large as your entire office’s communication network. Everyone has those kinds of ideas. Everyone thinks about how to improve operations on multiple levels.
The respectful environment is also the key for employees to find how to collaborate within your organization. There is no “right” way to collaborate, and it’s not up to managers or executives to dictate the terms. Employees need to be comfortable experimenting, taking risks with ideas and finding the best ways to work together.
A View of the Bigger Picture
Employees need to be able to see and understand how their role figures in to the bigger picture. When you know how your job and your decisions affect everything else in the company, you can make more effective choices. Concepts become elevated and align more with the overall company strategy.
Organizational structure and the physical environment in which employees interact also need to be conducive to collaboration. Ideas can happen more frequently and more naturally when employees can interface intuitively. More and more organizations are shifting from traditional hierarchal structures to flat non-hierarchal structures with open workspaces to foster better collaboration and faster decision-making.
When collaboration is reduced to a concept applied to single projects, teams or even single departments, efforts and ideas can become disjointed. If ideas are created as a part of the strategy and vision, they can continue to develop and flourish. Then, collaboration can become an engrained, integral part of your culture and will evolve to be effective no matter who is on the team or what the project entails.
A Shared Purpose
Collaboration is a direct result of a company’s Shared Purpose unified across its brand and culture. Employees engaged in a common goal work better together. It’s as simple as that. If they know everyone is on the same page, the same wavelength, they’re likely to trust them to respect and discuss their ideas. When mission, vision and values are aligned, ideas are more easily exchanged and collaboration happens more freely.
A Shared Purpose helps employees see that the company’s success is their personal success. With this common ideology in mind, they’ll be more inclined to take a chance with an idea, stay vigilant for ways to improve. Collaborative interactions will become a regular part of the dialogue, and ideas will be built with an encompassing perspective on a common foundation.