Business Success: Instilling a Culture of Collaboration

Many organizations spend large amounts of money on state-of-the-art collaboration software. However, success is elusive if the culture does not support collaboration. Here are some approaches for instilling a culture of collaboration.

• Establish a mentoring system. A natural complement to collaboration, mentoring helps support team effort by providing assistance to members in learning and development. A formal structure with top-level commitment and participation goes a long way to support system-wide collaboration.

• Invite constructive confrontation. Disagreement and conflict in a safe and trusting environment infuse the system with energy, leading to innovation within and evolution of the system.

• Integrate collaborative tools into work styles. Technology that facilitates collaboration is transforming the workplace. System-wide support and advocacy that consider individual styles as well as organizational goals ensure high adoption rates and collaboration

• Facilitate cross-functional brainstorming. Bringing diverse individuals together in a safe, informal environment to share ideas and concerns taps into the wisdom of the organization, leading to expansive thinking and breakthrough solutions.

• Reward people for collaborative behavior. Effective collaboration leads to efficiencies across the organization. Discouraging internal competition by rewarding individuals who collaborate helps to ingrain the behavior. The goal is create a new norm where collaboration is the natural tendency.

• Reward people for gaining broad input. Evaluate and reward individuals for seeking input and advice from others.

• Reward people for sharing information. Evaluate and reward individuals who share their knowledge and resources freely.

• Reward people who use collaboration to innovate. Evaluate and reward those who initiate and inspire cross-functional teams that innovate.

• Promote collaborators. Promote individuals who demonstrate their understanding of that concept that considering multiple perspectives leads to better decisions.

• Practice collaborative leadership. Modeling behaviors such as engaging people, asking questions, listening, and building consensus sends a powerful message that encourages similar behavior at all levels. Using positive nonverbal communication such as an accepting tone and curious tone elicits trust, sharing, and consensus.

I would love to hear your comments about ways you are implementing and encouraging collaboration in your organization.  If you like what you are reading, please share it with your network!