Collaborating, from an individual perspective, challenges you to articulate and distil what you are great at, and what you do poorly. This process of thinking honestly about your strengths and weaknesses can embolden individuals to ask for help more often and also be bold about how they can help others.
From an organisational perspective, collaboration seeks to find better and more efficient ways to achieve your goals. It can help arrive at a solution in less time by leveraging differences and working to identify which areas, teams and personnel can be complementary. Collaborating can also propel a firm to become a learning organisation as it builds a culture of ongoing learning.
So, given the many benefits of creating a collaborative workplace, how is such an environment fostered? Here are eight specific steps that leaders and organisations can take to encourage and grow collaboration within in their teams and workplaces:
- Build Teams Based Around Individuals’ Strengths: Build teams based around individuals who can complement one another, and whose members each reinforce where another member might not be as strong.
- Encourage the Collaborative Spirit: Facilitate the building of relationships organically between collaborators. It’s easier to build relationships when people can relate to and empathize with one another.
- Encourage Open-Mindedness: Ask teams to approach each situation openly. Open-mindedness leads to safer and more comfortable discussions, which encourages greater exchange of ideas.
- Give Teams a Sense of Purpose: Help people see value in what they are doing, and how their contributions can help the organisation.
- Design Open Workstations: Common work areas will help employees interact more and share ideas. It will also help to remove the hierarchy barriers.
- Spread the Delegation of Tasks: Spreading important tasks across a wide range of people will have a dual-positive effect — it helps people feel valued and it also keeps individuals from feeling overloaded.
- Encourage and Reward Innovation: Recognising creativity and outside-the-box thinking gives employees a sense that they are invested in, and valued by the organisation.
- Deploy Collaboration Tools: Use online collaboration tools, which have the capabilities to document, store, track and report information at one single accessible point, regardless of where the person or team is located.