Why Collaboration is the Key to Success

For those of us who remember the office days of old when untouched brown suggestion boxes lay on dusty corner tables and a top-down management style was de rigueur, the idea of improved company collaboration sounds like a wild dream.

And while this noble notion is exciting in itself, company-wide collaboration and employee engagement is also an aid in the performance of any business, in any sector.

So out with inefficient systems and low employee morale. Out with slow communication and entrenched behaviours that have held us back. It’s time to turn to collaboration platforms and see how far we can go.

There are many benefits to implementing greater collaboration between employees in a business. But what are these benefits and what challenges can you expect to find along the way?

Engage the frontline and make them feel valued

Frontline staff are a vital part of company reputation - after all they’re the face clients see and the voice a customer hears. It is therefore important to maintain a buoyant morale within the ranks. One of the best ways to do this is to make each individual feel valued, for them to know that their voice makes a difference.

This is where employee experience comes in. Through their stories and their experiences, your business can improve. All too common is the frustrating experience of frontline staff having top-down management force changes on them that are untried, untested and run contrary to the smooth running of the company itself. Instead, implement staff’s well-thought out suggestions and ask for feedback to cultivate a trusting relationship between staff and management. Remember to promote success stories to continue collaboration between levels.

Promote communities of practice

Putting further emphasis on the value of staff will pay even larger dividends. Communities of Practice – where likeminded individuals get together on or offline to work on projects that they’re all interested in – are another major player in staff morale. And this type of collaboration is beneficial for both the company and the individuals involved.

Major companies like Google are trailblazers in this arena. The promotion of communities of practice in forward-thinking companies has been a boon to all involved. Individuals enjoy working towards a collective goal as part of a team, and the company sees their employees’ skills increase. At the same time, colleagues form strong bonds.

Communities of Practice can be particularly important for remote workers. They work well to foster cooperation, and this gives staff who miss out on the day-to-day interaction of office life – remote workers or those in other countries - a connection back to the company and their colleagues. It’s win-win.

Promote using skills for the greater good

Honing skills and earning karma sounds like time well spent, and becoming involved in social innovation communities is a good way of achieving this.

Online communities are more visible than ever, and the work that can be done through collaboration is amazing; improving communities, helping charities, and assisting those in need. The feeling of doing something that makes the world a better place to live is an obvious draw and the kudos for businesses who engage in these pursuits is significant.

With a knowledgeable public who are driven by their morals in where to buy their services or products, being a business known for its commitment to helping others is important.

Sparks will fly

Without collaboration, there is a tendency for businesses and individuals to fall victim of the dreaded ‘silo effect’, where each sector or area of a company is working only for itself and by itself. Rather than glance around and learn from each other, the silo only allows those within it to look towards the sky.

But with collaboration comes innovation. A technician working alongside marketers or engineers mixing with administrators is unusual and from it can come something brilliantly left-field. These new relationships will change entrenched thought and help challenge outdated perspectives. While at first there might be some friction, sparks will fly and the end result will be a better understanding between teams. That can only be a good thing.

But remember...

Collaboration tools themselves are no silver bullet for problems that are rooted deep in the working routine of a company. These platforms are not magic wands to change the core behaviours of managers and staff. Leaders within companies need to contribute to changes; if staff aren’t willing to submit suggestions for change then that’s probably because they believe no changes will occur. So implement suggestions, build confidence, and enjoy the fruits of improved collaboration.

Read Part 2 of this series - Business of the Future: How Collaboration Platforms Provide the Advantage