Creating a culture of collaboration isn’t always easy for organisations. This can be because of unclear expectations, employees who may not want to collaborate or lack of follow-through. This post presents several strategies to help you overcome these challenges and learn how to transform your organisational culture to be more collaborative.
What is a culture of collaboration?
A culture of collaboration is a type of work atmosphere that focuses on maximising employees’ distinct skill sets and competencies through teamwork.
Moreover, in a collaborative culture, collaboration is regular, deliberate and integrated into how employees do their work every day and their attitudes about it.
Research shows that employees in collaborative workplaces are more productive, motivated, and produce higher quality work.
And like any other key leadership characteristic, fostering a culture of collaboration starts with one word: communication. Read on to find out more!
How do you develop a culture of collaboration?
In our experience, we have found that organisations must continually improve their workplace communication to foster and support a collaborative culture.
Effective communication is the backbone of all successful organisations, but this is especially true for those where collaboration is central to their success. This is because, to work well together, team members must communicate their ideas and goals across multiple channels.
Here are seven communication strategies to keep in mind to create a robust collaborative culture in your organisation
1. Lead by example
To develop a collaborative culture where employees and teams can thrive, creating environments open to collaboration should be a priority for the organisation’s leaders and managers.
If managers don’t communicate with employees or listen to their ideas, meaningful collaboration between co-workers is unlikely.
Something as simple as regularly asking employees for their opinions could be the invitation they need to offer up their contributions. If you want employees to collaborate, start by leading by example.
2. Build relationships based on trust
Collaboration thrives in an environment of trust. For employees to collaborate effectively, organisations first need to encourage leaders, managers and employees to build and maintain trusting relationships. Key communication tips for developing and sustaining trust include:
- Say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Communicate information in a way that meets the needs of the listener.
- Avoid over-promising and under-delivering.
- Keep people informed about progress, particularly when circumstances change.
Creating a robust culture of collaboration can only begin once your employees trust one another to contribute positively to work processes in ways that benefit overarching team goals.
3. Promote regular discussion
To foster collaboration, start by promoting regular, meaningful dialogue between all employees, and let them know new ideas are welcomed. When organisations create this environment, they encourage team members to share their opinions and listen actively to others.
By communicating more often and regularly, organisational relationships strengthen, and colleagues grow more comfortable interacting with their peers and with their leaders.
“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”– Jim Stovall, American writer.
4. Use tools that support collaboration
Bringing teams together is not easy, especially if your organisation uses a model where some or all employees work from home.
Organisations with collaborative cultures are purposeful in the tools and strategies they provide for their teams. Technological collaboration tools, like cloud-based software, productivity applications and web-based workspaces, can help empower employees to collaborate, even in the digital realm.
Fortunately, there are now many online tools that can be used collaboratively for anything from project management to program evaluation and quality improvement.
👉🏻 Book a demo and learn how to map and optimise your business processes visually, simply and collaboratively using MEERQAT.
5. Be transparent
In a collaborative culture, leaders and managers freely share news and information, whether it’s good or bad. Not talking about setbacks creates an atmosphere where rumours fly, and employees feel they aren’t trusted.
Moreover, when an organisation doesn’t internally talk about a project or a process that went wrong, it loses the opportunity to learn from it.
In a collaborative culture that embraces continuous quality improvement, the most important thing isn’t that you or your team always wins. It’s that you learn from everything and that you make the workforce, the processes and the organisation better by sharing what you have learned.
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- How to re-engage unmotivated employees post-COVID-19
- The benefits of reflective practice
- Five ways to drive improvement in healthcare (that you may not find elsewhere)
6. Embrace differences
It’s essential to embrace difference as a part of your collaborative culture. At the same time, it can be challenging to navigate differences in opinion and approaches since it takes time for individuals to develop the skills necessary to make concessions in the interests of collaboration.
While it’s helpful to acknowledge that differences in opinion occur, these differences don’t have to impede your organisation’s progress. Indeed, it can be beneficial to use differences in perspective to help collaborators find solutions they may not have come up with independently.
7. Create feedback systems
You’ll want to consistently monitor your employees’ ability to collaborate effectively and intervene when you identify potential gaps in collaborative processes. You can mandate specific formal feedback cycles or use a more casual approach with feedback software. These feedback opportunities can help your employees feel comfortable communicating about their work and assist you in better facilitating and encouraging teamwork across your organisation.
The take-home message is that open communication is the foundation of a collaborative organisational culture. Remember that cultural shifts take time, so if your organisation needs a cultural change to enable meaningful and sustainable collaboration, be patient!
We want to hear from you! Share with us your experiences in building a collaborative culture in your organisation.