How Do I Make Workforce Collaboration Happen?
- Create a space where employees can collaborate when needed, but have time alone for calls, focused work and more.
- Set the example for employees as a manager. Show them how to create effective groups and work together.
- Build collaboration into your company goals and values.
- Mix up your work communication methods. If you always write emails, have a face-to-face meeting.
- Be proactive when issues arise among employees.
Teamwork in the workplace can stimulate creativity, engagement and innovation, yet it remains one of those commonly underutilized tools. Many of us are guilty of staying in our little nooks of expertise, comfy in our silos and never seeking out true collaboration. It’s easy to put your blinders on and get the job done, but that’s not what drives success, or growth, both individually and organizationally.
39% of surveyed employees believe that people in their own organization don’t collaborate enough.
So the drive is there, there is no mistaking that your workforce wants more collaboration, and sees a need for it. What they require now is the leadership to direct this change. Silos don’t come down on their own; a shift toward a more collaborative culture needs to come from the top, down.
How To Make Work More Collaborative: In simplest terms, it is important you set the example for employees. Leaders, no matter how many reports they have, should always be performing work and tasks in the ways they would be happy to have employees follow. This includes everything from how you conduct conversations to how you manage projects. This might be a large adjustment for you and your team, so start small. For example, if you have an established internal communication plan, be sure you are following the rules yourself. Don’t decide you’re allowed to hold impromptu meetings by stopping by a coworker’s desk if you would prefer every meeting be scheduled and accepted by employees in advance.
About 75% of employers rate team work and collaboration as “very important”, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance reviews.
Again, this time in employers, we see that the need for collaboration is agreed upon, but it is not reflected in real implementation. Communication is the cornerstone of collaboration, but the vast majority of employees aren’t trained in effective workplace communications. Making this part of your continuous dialogue with employees can really lay the groundwork for successful collaboration.
How To Make Work More Collaborative: First and foremost, begin including collaboration as a topic in performance reviews and deliverable meetings. Dialogue will emphasize the importance and help increase the value employees place on teamwork in general. It will also help them begin establishing goals that include collaboration, connecting it to deliverables and providing a measurement for improvement.
49% of Millennials support social tools for workplace collaboration.
In fact, about 40% of Millennials (who are soon to comprise the majority of the workforce) would even pay out of pocket for social collaboration tools to improve productivity. That’s how much they believe in the dream team of collaboration and technology.
How To Make Work More Collaborative: There are a great many tools out there specifically built to help teams better communicate with each other. Exploring those tools might be the easiest and quickest way to appease those employees itching for better communication among their team members. Of course, not every company (or budget) allows for new tool adoption. In that case, consider some of the free methods of communication you already have available. For instance, Google Apps (G Suite) provides document and spreadsheet editors that are automatically updated, no matter how many people are working within them. They also have in-document comment capabilities in which you can tag users.
Additionally, instant messengers and email, while traditional, are still used today for a reason. If you have been avoiding their use out of fear of a productivity dip, set clear guidelines on how your organization uses each. Some great guidelines many teams follow include:
- Do not reply all unless specifically directed to do so
- Always cc <insert team or employee> when working on this project/type of project
- Include questions in subject lines
- In group emails, use names to direct questions and assignments with optimal clarity
97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.
The ideal vision of teamwork looks like cogs in a machine, working together seamlessly. More often though, we end up with something more similar to an octopus flailing its limbs, disjointed and acting autonomously of one another. Transparency and effective communication are the keys to true alignment. When everyone knows the objectives, and how everyone’s work contributes to the completion of those objectives, then alignment becomes real.
How To Make Work More Collaborative: It’s critical that connections between tasks and goals are made. Many employees need a little guidance in understanding how their daily tasks are pushing the greater goal forward. Instead of leaving it to question, make everything abundantly clear. Make it visual by writing the current company and departmental goals on a goal board placed in a highly trafficked area. If you use digital collaboration tools, update the whole company each week on the current status of the goal and deliverables as well as what is needed to progress forward. Don’t forget to hand out kudos and thanks often for wins.
86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.
When communication breaks down, we start to see a lot of redundant or duplicate work, reduced quality and frustration among team members. Collaboration shines a light on all the nooks and crannies in which these issues start and fester. It provides checks and balances, keeping responsibilities of individuals in line with the greater goal of the team.
How To Make Work More Collaborative: Make it clear to employees that it is better to communicate challenges or issues as soon as they arise. As a manager, you will want employees to feel comfortable coming to you with these problems. Do so by leaving frustration behind and allowing support to come forward. If you consistently greet employees with a short temper, they will fear approaching you with even the smallest problem. You might also choose to be proactive by watching for signs of struggling like nearing deadlines or missed KPIs and approaching the employee.
90% of employees who responded in a survey believe that decision-makers should seek other opinions before making a final decision, yet 40% of employees believe that decision makers “consistently failed” to seek another opinion.
Another disconnect between what we know is good for the organization, and what leaders are actually doing about it. Well-rounded, or collaborative decision-making is the obvious best choice, but it’s easier said than done. The more weigh-ins a decision maker has to deal with, the more complicated the decision becomes. That being said, the easy way out doesn’t engage, empower or validate workers. In fact, not including them in the decisions that affect them or their work can lead to higher stress levels.
Less than half of survey respondents said that their organizations discuss issues truthfully and effectively.
Author and workplace strategists, Nilofer Merchant, sums this one up perfectly in her book, The New How, as she talks about honest transparency:
“Everyone is better off when they know why decisions are made with as much accuracy as possible. It gives them an understanding of what matters and provides information on which to base the trade-offs constantly being made at every level. It also boosts buy-in and energy from the organization. When reasons behind decisions are not shared, the decisions can seem arbitrary and possibly self-serving. That is, they may seem like they are made for the good of the decision makers, rather than the good of the organization.”
Workforce collaboration doesn’t have a shot without top-down buy-in. Truthfully, it’s too comfortable and easy for people to remain in their silos; the change has to be facilitated by leaders. These statistics indicate a pattern of leaders and employees seeming to be aware of the need for more and improved collaboration, but not really getting around the implementation of it. Is that true in your organization?
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As Director of Client Service, Sylvie actively works to scale and grow our business, while driving value and customer success at every level. Sylvie directs our department's remarkable team of specialists who consult with and support ClearCompany’s diverse clientele, delivering best-in-class client service. Sylvie serves as a strategic partner to executives within our client base, ensuring that our platform not only assists with administrative concerns, but also solves for large-scale business needs.