Building a Culture of Collaboration in the Workplace
By Jonathan Wright
Creating a culture of collaboration in the workplace requires pushing beyond buzz words to implement practices and programs that nurture a sense of authentic participation. When intended to become a cultural practice, collaboration cannot happen as a one-off. It must be continuously nurtured. The benefits of putting in this strategic work are far-reaching, and at Learn2, we are always excited to support organizations to exercise the transformative power of teamwork.
What is a culture of collaboration?
The essence of a collaborative workplace culture is one where people, at every level of the organization, are continuously supported and encouraged to work together. They recognize many heads are better than one and frequently bring diverse perspectives to the table. More than that, a collaborative workplace is one where team members know their title does not dictate the value of their contributions and that every good idea is exactly that – regardless of whom it comes from.
What elements come together to form a collaborative culture?
People will be much more likely to bring their unique ideas to the table if they trust their leadership team and peers to appreciate what they have to offer. A sense of trust gives people the space to take risks because they do not have to fear failure or reprimand. You build trust by delivering on the commitments you articulate and by consistently adhering to the values you claim to care about.
Consistent & Strategic Implementation
As we mentioned above, collaboration can’t just be a word you toss around. There need to be strategies and formalized supports in place to nurture an authentic culture of collaboration. From software that enhances idea-sharing through to real-life bulletin boards for big thoughts, you can make collaborating more fun by making it more accessible via proven resources. Our team can provide several recommendations surrounding the best software, technologies and traditional mechanisms to spur collaboration – just ask!
Over and above digital programs for project collaborations, establishing places where your team members can congregate, and converse will help create more innovative teamwork scenarios. Place these spaces at the heart of your office where they’re readily available to all. Encourage people to gather there by making them fun places to be and ensuring they are filled with all the tools for collaboration.
Transparency goes beyond building trust by encouraging the unfettered exchange of information and best practices. When you build a culture of transparency, you actively promote both your leadership and team members’ sense of comfort around identifying areas for improvement and discussing challenges in transparent yet constructive ways.
Dissemination of knowledge
People will not feel comfortable coming to the collaborative table if they do not have the sense that they have all the information required to make informed decisions. When there is a hierarchy established surrounding information sharing, you will limit the depth and breadth of collaboration possible. By removing barriers to the access of knowledge and ensuring team members recognize there is no value in coveting it, you will bring a more diverse array of thought leaders to the collaborative table.
How to create a collaborative culture in the workplace
Exactly how you go about creating a collaborative culture will depend on many things. From the size of your workplace through to the personalities within it, there is really no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the creation and implementation of meaningful professional development. We work alongside our corporate and community partners to build strategies that reflect their current culture and where they want to take their organization. Some of the steps we take to help you build a more positive and collaborative business include the following:
1. Establish & truly understand your vision
You need to know where you want to go, if you hope to arrive there successfully. Establishing the vision for your collaborative workplace is the first step in dictating which policies, programs and procedures will most benefit your organization.
2. Build a team of collaborative leaders
You cannot do it alone. Building a collaborative environment demands a cross-organizational approach that must be supported from the inside out. If you want to be authentic about enhancing teamwork, one of the best ways to do that is to ensure your leadership team models the positive qualities you hope to prioritize. The more your leadership team shows what is hoped for, the more likely it is that people will get the hint and feel inspired to model these behaviours.
3. Identify opportunities to improve process
Processes can be fundamental to keeping things organized and ensuring your company runs as it should. However, in the spirit of getting things done quickly, processes can sometimes circumvent collaboration and place too large an emphasis on siloed work. Look at your processes and figure out if they are helping – or hindering – your team’s capacity for collaboration.
4. Be intentional about encouraging engagement
If your team members think getting their work done as efficiently as possible is their only priority, they may feel discouraged from taking risks and reaching out to their team members for creative and collaborative brainstorming. Create opportunities for your team members to get together, take advantage of collaborative spaces and engage in energizing dialogue about how to approach work with a different, more collaborative, frame of mind.
5. Nurture diversity of thought
Organizations can fall into a pattern where they always welcome ideas from the same individuals and, unknowingly, limit the pool of thought from which they pull. By offering incentives to your entire organization for raising their hands and raising the standards of collaboration, you will soon see the vibrancy that blooms when a wider variety of brainpower is welcomed to the boardroom table.
6. Welcome feedback
Your organization is a living entity. It constantly shifts and grows. By developing systems for feedback, you will be able to keep your finger on the pulse of positive or less desirable changes. The more readily you welcome feedback, the sooner you will see the fruits of your systemic changes and the more ready you will be to adapt, when necessary, to keep moving your organization in a positive direction.
Build up – and build upon – your workplace’s collaborative culture with Learn2
Our team readily recognizes the potential of collaboration. For years, Learn2 has supported organizations to see the difference that open dialogue can create for those companies who are eager to innovate and grow and excite their team members while doing it. Reach out to our team of workplace culture specialists and we will be thrilled to help you identify areas of opportunity, so your business can walk its talk and nurture an inclusive and collaborative environment.
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