Tip of the Week: 7 Simple Ways to Foster a Collaborative Workplace

An organization according to Merriam Webster’s definition is a collective of individuals in pursuit of a singular objective, or; the manner in which activities are planned and executed systematically.

Productivity in your business is, therefore, dependent on the level of organization of your business processes and employees. Achieving this requires teamwork, teamwork requires collaboration. A collaborative workplace is characterized by teamwork, accountability, effective communication, increased efficiency, superior products/services, and a motivated workforce.

Here are seven simple ways that can be used to foster collaboration in your workplace.

1. Encourage Engagement Between Employees

Each department has its role, but since are all employees are working towards a common goal, then each department can comment on how to improve the effectiveness of other units. For example, if poor packaging hampers my job in logistics, then I should be able to relay my ideas on how the packaging can be improved.

Engagement through interdepartmental meets encourages employee interactions. The meetings could be in social events, extracurricular activities or boardroom meetings to reinforce members input and cohesion. Cohesion fosters collaboration.

2. Orientation and Mentorship

New members often feel excluded and become frustrated if they try to catch up but there is no one to show them around or how things are done in your organization. But having a policy where newly inducted members are oriented develops the culture of collaboration and this boosts the new member’s morale.

A culture of orientation also fosters a culture of mentorship where the experienced members guide and train those with a lesser experience. Such collaborative initiatives ensure skills transfer, career development, and a reliable workforce, making your business more competitive.

3. Lead By Example…

Your leadership qualities reflect in your organization culture. Just like children develop habits picked from within the family and friends, employees take cues from their leader and transfer these to each other and finally to your customers.

If you show initiative in your actions, compassion, tolerance and respect in your interaction with stakeholders, this is what your employees will demonstrate to each other. This kind of leadership fosters collaboration in your workplace. Employees will respect each member’s contribution to the organization. You can imagine the mood of your staff if the janitor feels unappreciated and decides to do shoddy work, even if just for two days.

4. … but Know When to Step Aside

As a leader, you entrust some activities and responsibilities to other people. Sticking around and micromanaging every process might be good to control quality but if you have to grow the business and ensure autonomy, you have to show your employees that you trust their judgment and decision-making capabilities. Start by delegating and encouraging them to be their best.

An employee who feels trusted is motivated to be reliable and dependable.

Have faith in your employees. After all, why did you hire them?

5. Open Communication Channels

Feedback from your employees helps improve internal business processes, product features/quality, and also shapes the organization culture. As a business owner/manager, you should provide a forum where employees can submit their suggestions, complaints and any share any other information that affects their productivity. Collaboration in your workplace can only be achieved if you communicate effectively. Part of effective communication is to ensure that you let employees know that their feedback is received and appreciated. Your acknowledgment encourages further contribution, and this fosters innovation in the organization. Employees who feel that their ideas have a chance of being implemented will buy into the business and will share in how to improve certain areas.

6. Demonstrate how each Employee Benefits, Not Just the Company

We all have ambitions, and these dreams feed our motivation. It is also human nature to weigh how much our individual interests are affected by our surroundings. “What’s in it for me?”  It’s time you went to your employees with a narrative that addresses their individual benefits. For example, the team that accomplishes X will get Y as recognition for their effort.  Incentives and rewards are useful tools for behavior change. However, you should also demonstrate how the activities have more inherent benefits that satisfy an individual’s personal and professional goals.

For example, you should let members understand that participating in a team exercise can help identify their strengths and weaknesses. Suffice to say collaborative activities gives participants the opportunity to improve on their weak areas and exploit their strong areas through the exposure. Who knows, they might even land new roles.

7. Data and Technology

Technology provides visibility of data, and this can be used to enhance collaboration in the workplace. For example, with an ERP, all departments have insight on data from the other units. Therefore, Accounts knows that Marketing needs insight in two days, and prepares. Production sees inventory decreasing, and they increase manufacturing to fill new orders, without being reminded. Seamless collaboration reduces conflict because everybody understands and plays their role.

Have you successfully enhanced collaboration at your workplace? What are some of the challenges that you experienced? Let us know in the comments section.

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