Collaboration has become a buzzword in both academia and the corporate world. While this concept may seem somewhat overused, the reality is that in the age of technology – and really in general – collaboration is the most effective method of solving a problem. However, developing an organically creative and collaborative environment, especially in a working world that relies on individual productivity, can be rather challenging. To build teams that feel truly comfortable working together, here are five ways to encourage collaboration:
1. Create the right environment
Forbes notes that if an organization lauds individual performance as a means of measuring success, workers are more likely to focus on personal progress. Whether it be students or employees, rewarding individual success may in some ways deter the idea of collaboration altogether. This is not to suggest that those who do well independently should not be rewarded for their efforts. Instead, consider finding methods for incentivizing teamwork and making collaboration an integral facet of accomplishing work-related tasks.
2. Use the right tools
Often, workers cannot collaborate easily due to disparate job roles or a lack of understanding regarding an organization as a whole. An employee in the marketing department may not have a firm understanding of another employee’s role in IT, but increasing general knowledge makes it possible for these two workers to better collaborate together. It’s imperative to find the right tools to build that bridge of understanding. For example, a business simulation game encourages workers from various sections of an organization to use their skills to accomplish a common goal. This type of practice may then make employees more willing to collaborate on real-world tasks.
“Teamwork is best inspired by leaders who facilitate collaboration.”
3. Identify collaborative leaders
ZDNet points out that teamwork is best inspired by leaders who facilitate collaboration. Managers and executives are in key positions to foster collaborative environments and ultimately have more control in developing strategies for tackling specific projects. Leadership styles vary, and some will likely rely on personal delegation and favor individual successes. Others may step back and empower staff by providing them with the tools and information to accomplish the task as a team. Identifying leaders who thrive in collaborative environments is thus crucial to making the organization more collaborative overall.
4. Know when to adapt
If tried and true business strategies begin producing less than desirable results, it’s important to know when to adapt to a new market, internal inefficiencies or modern technology. To respond quickly, organizations must encourage staff to be comfortable sharing business solutions. If workers feel confident providing feedback regarding how to improve an organization, collaboration will likely occur more organically. Inc. recommends broadcasting recognition, which will motivate other staff to comfortably share ideas and insights.
5. Make collaboration a natural part of workflow
An individual’s workload may be more than enough to create a general system of isolation in the workplace. In other words, if workers feel that collaborative tasks are slowing them down or taking away time from their individual responsibilities, odds are they will naturally develop a negative connotation with the idea of working as a team. Forbes notes that if collaboration is made a core value and integrated into everyone’s workflow, then employees are less likely to view it as a deterrence to their individual jobs.