Do different teams within your organisation work well together? Are you fostering a true culture of collaboration at work?
86% of employees in leadership positions blame lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures. In addition, companies that actively promote communication and collaboration have been proven to reduce staff turnover by 50%.
While we all know the importance of collaboration between teams, making it happen in practice may not be as easy as we would hope. Many factors have an impact on collaboration and can make it even more challenging to achieve, to mention a few: fast-growing organisations where it’s difficult to know everyone, remote working, and company acquisitions where different cultures and teams are brought together.
Furthermore, each team has their own priorities, ways of working, language and goals. However, as a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure collaboration takes place not only within a team but across the whole organisation.
99.1% of employees prefer a workplace where people identify and discuss issues truthfully and effectively, but less than 50% say their organisation does it effectively.
Common goals to promote collaboration
Having common goals and, more importantly, communicating these effectively to everyone in an organisation is critical for collaboration.
Every team has their own deadlines, projects, and priorities which may or may not align with other teams. This can too easily create silo working and competition between teams. While competition can be constructive, it can also easily spiral out of control.
As a leader, you need to ensure that the organisation has common goals and that everyone has clarity around the part they play in achieving them.
Recognition is also crucial to collaboration. Failing to appreciate the efforts of everyone involved can create a rivalry between teams.
Human connection is key for collaboration
54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great co-workers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company longer than was in their best interest.
Most people don’t like asking for help, particularly in the workplace. It raises the fear of being seen as incompetent and weak. This becomes even more overwhelming when you don’t know who to ask or don’t have any connection with them.
In small businesses, it’s easier to know everyone, but for big companies, this can be a real challenge.
Making sure that new hires have adequate time to get to know each department’s personnel, as well as their roles in accomplishing organisational goals, can make them feel more at ease with the new role.
You can also set aside time for socialising amongst departments outside of the office.
50% of the positive changes in communication patterns within the workplace can be accredited to social interaction outside of the workplace.
Away days and team-building activities can help, but you should also find a time that people can share in their day-to-day, like lunch or 1-to-1 calls, or bringing different people or teams together to collaborate on a particular project.
The latter may require time and effort but has the potential to achieve great results, not only in terms of fostering a culture of collaboration and support but breaking down silo working.
When we have a connection with other people, we feel more comfortable asking for help, and we are also more willing to collaborate and help each other.
Creating relationships outside of the workplace can be key to improving communication and collaboration as well as reducing turnover and increasing employee satisfaction and engagement.
Collaboration must happen even when apart
33% of employees say the ability to collaborate makes them more loyal.
Remote working has made collaboration more challenging, for some more than others. However, the fact that we are not in the same space makes intentional collaboration even more critical.
At Optimist Performance, we all work from home 95% of the time. However, this hasn’t adversely affected our relationships. We pick up the phone and call each other regularly and take a few minutes at the start of internal meetings to chat informally, to share and update. We prioritise face-to-face contact not only through client meetings and events but also by scheduling contact days for focused and collaborative working.
We are conscious that we are all different and have different needs. To use an example, one person in our team has mentioned that even though she loves working from home, she feels quite lonely sometimes, so we have scheduled a couple of short calls a week, apart from our regular meetings, just to have a chat. Whether diarised or spontaneous, creating a culture for regular connection and contact is crucial.
There is not one solution that works for everyone; the main thing is that you are open and honest with each other and are willing to make an effort to create that connection even if you are a world apart.
There can’t be collaboration without empathy
Connecting with people in other teams can be challenging because frequently, we don’t understand what they do, how they do it, or even the language they use.
This lack of awareness can make us underestimate our colleagues’ jobs. For instance, asking for something and not giving enough time to do it or failing to recognise there are competing priorities can result in conflicts or resentment.
Although it’s not realistic or desirable to have oversight of everything other people do (that’s why we have different departments), being aware of what is realistic and achievable for colleagues can help to foster a culture of collaboration.
The Optimist View…
We know creating teamwork and collaboration between departments is not easy, but a team doesn’t work just by putting people together. Different teams won’t work effectively together just because they are part of the same organisation. As a leader, you need to be intentional about creating collaboration between teams.
Our bespoke programmes are designed to create a safe space where people can forge connections to enhance collaboration in and out of the workplace in the longer term.
We actively encourage people to explore the blocks and boundaries of positive team culture and then help them articulate and build a lasting and achievable one. Our focus is on experiential learning, so we’ll challenge people to test out their ‘brave new world’ through active and upbeat teamwork away from the office. This is reinforced by working together to embed key values at the core (including teamwork and collaboration) of the day-to-day business.
Get in touch with us today if you want to know more about what we do and how we do it.