No successful business can meet its goals without active collaboration. Workplace collaboration means professionals in different departments, teams, functions, and management levels working together to solve common problems and meet common goals. It means individuals working together in a unified fashion to make decisions, meet deadlines, and achieve objectives. Like a pit crew and driver working together to bring about a common goal, a truly collaborative workplace requires multiple members in multiple disciplines working together for a common goal. For this to work well, a collaborative workforce must have a workflow process built around open communication.
Why Collaboration Matters
In any endeavor, a team is always more powerful and more capable than a single person. Imagine an Indy 500 pit crew with no collaboration. One guy shows up to put the tires on whenever he likes. Another technician decides to put the gas in the night before and then go on vacation, and so on. That is not collaboration. For true teamwork to take place requires the timely and functional working together of persons with specific expertise to deliver the desired result in a timely and competitive manner. For this to happen, team members must have healthy working relationships. They must trust each other to perform their respective tasks, and they must be able to rely on one another for timely and effective expertise in their various functions.
How Collaboration Improves the Workflow Process
When each member of a team does their job openly and collaboratively:
· Workflow processes are optimized
· Team relationships are productive
· Productivity is maximized
· Efficiency is improved
The Benefits of Workplace Collaboration
Of course, we could go on and on about why collaboration in the workplace is a good idea. But let’s take a more objective view by reviewing the direct organizational benefits.
As human beings, we do our best thinking during and after actively sharing ideas. When people with different skill sets and educations work on the same problems, we see our objectives and obstacles from different angles, making new ways of thinking possible.
Spurs Good Problem Solving
When divergent experience, educational backgrounds, and perspectives are shared openly, novel solutions can come to the fore.
Opens Group Perception to the Bigger Picture
In business, most of us remain siloed in our various areas of expertise. Too often, we labor under the misapprehension that our own area of expertise contains all the answers. Working together openly makes this misapprehension impossible, opening up our perception to the bigger, truer picture.
Improves Skill Sharing & Learning
When you build a corporate culture around a collaborative ethic, individual members of your team will be more likely to believe they can learn valuable things from their co-workers. In such an environment, professionals actively share knowledge and skills, boosting each other’s competence. The end result is better productivity for your company, with the competition firmly positioned in the rear-view mirror.
Boosts Employee Satisfaction
Human beings are social creatures and for good reason. Collaboration and cooperation have made us a successful species. This is why collaboration is so important in the workplace. In other words, we have an instinct, a natural inclination, and a desire to collaborate. So it stands to reason that a collaborative workplace is a happier one. In short, building a collaborative corporate culture is a way for everyone to emerge a winner.
Connects Remote & Distributed Teams
Just as siloed individuals can suffer from the fog of war, so can disconnected teams. When an ethic of collaboration is embedded in your corporate culture, teams can develop a habit of working together first and crossing the finish line second. This may sound problematic at first, but at the end of the day it means higher quality end-products, better quality assurance, and better customer satisfaction- because slow and steady does, in fact, win the race.
How to Create a Collaborative Workplace
Enough “why,” let’s move on to “how.” To develop a workplace where collaboration happens by default, we need to change our perspective. We can begin by starting with one rule: Listen first, and talk later. If we do this, accept it as a general ethic, collaboration will naturally emerge.
Try writing up a collaborative constitution, a set of basic workplace rules beginning with “Listen first, and talk later.” This first rule may be followed by “Lead by example.” One might also say, “Show, don’t tell.” In so doing, we demonstrate the value of the behavior or techniques we would promote. What better way to improve ourselves and others?
Rule three might be to Be flexible. We should value facts over feelings, productivity over habit, and end products over process. This can be tough for the egomaniacs among us, but it’s necessary if you want to leave the competition in the dust.
Ed Moore, Red Sneakers Mobile Marketing