Collaboration Is Key
It used to be that there were “departments” in every company where employees contributed to a common function, be it sales or IT or even HR. Often, these departments created silos of information and knowledge that didn’t cross lines and so sales weren’t aware of what IT was doing and vice versa.
What we’re seeing:
With the increasing usage of social media tools within corporate structures, these silos aren’t as prominent anymore, although they still exist. And they shouldn’t be allowed to proliferate in most small businesses (and big businesses especially). Why? Because these silos breed less cooperation, power struggles and productivity loss . Quite simply, collaboration should be key. Collaboration allows employees to bounce ideas of each other, which can help create the best idea possible for a project; and also helps communication, improves productivity and efficiency (the same thing won’t be done twice), and your company gets access to more knowledge so you are solving business issues quicker and encouraging greater innovation.
Here’s five simple ways to increase collaboration in your workplace:
1. Set the tone.
Let employees know you prioritize and value collaboration in your company. Speak about it often in meetings, encourage staff to share ideas for how to increase collaboration, and set up brainstorming sessions with different departments participating together.
2. Adopt an open communication style.
Have a weekly or monthly companywide meeting where each department shares its accomplishments, goals, and challenges with everyone. After each informal presentation, ask all staff to weigh in on ways to help address these challenges and meet set goals. This exercise also allows information exchange that leads to ideas the whole organization can leverage. You know how you can be so close to a problem, you don’t see its solution? Open up the problem to new thinking and you may be pleasantly surprised with the solutions that come back to you.
Also, consider asking key staff to spend a day in a different department to become acquainted with and invested in its special way of conducting business.
3. Share and use social media and collaboration tools.
Now that social networks are widely used, you can incorporate them into the workplace to create a “space” for employees to collaborate. Yammer, an enterprise social network, is like Facebook for business. Used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies, Yammer has a news feed, status updates and other features that help break down silos and increase employee’s sense of community. Other tools include Google Docs, Trello, and SharePoint.
4. Foster face-to-face time.
Organizational success hinges largely on the strength of its members’ relationships. Hold offsite meetings, celebrations, or other events with plenty of social time incorporated. This allows personal relationships to develop, which increases an overall team mentality and “we’re in it together” vibe.
5. Promote diversity.
The cross pollination of ideas happens best when people with different backgrounds and perspectives are brought together. This diversity in brainstorming teams and company “think tanks” lets staff be introduced to possibilities they otherwise wouldn’t consider. These new ways of thinking increase innovation, which is the lifeblood of collaboration.
The success of any organization truly relies on the strengths of its staff. Focus on sharing your staff’s knowledge and passion with the whole company, and your business will thrive.