Do’s and Don’ts of Fostering a Culture of Collaboration
As a manager, you’re probably familiar with current research that states collaborative workplaces are more engaged and productive. But when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of fostering a positive culture of collaboration, do you know what to do — and what to avoid? The following do’s and don’ts can help:
- Don’t avoid collaboration yourself. If you want your team to work collaboratively, you have to lead by example. When the opportunity arises, work with other managers and department heads to set goals, solve problems, and find new ways of doing things.
- Do emphasize the value of teamwork. You have to actively promote an environment where employees believe they work better when they collaborate. One way to do this is to evaluate collaboration so you can show employees the results, whether that’s an increase in productivity, enhanced quality, or some other metric.
- Don’t reward based on individual performance. As Susan M. Heathfield points out in her article titled “How to Build a Teamwork Culture in Your Organization” for The Balance, our society focuses significantly on individual contributions. To teach your employees to think about accomplishment as a team, create a reward system that doesn’t reward the individual but instead, rewards the entire team.
- Do promote diversity. Diverse teams are more creative and productive — but only when they function collaboratively. When you have employees from three or four generations and multiple backgrounds on one team, you need to break down barriers and promote understanding. Formal team building exercises, as well as informal team lunches, dinners, and other fun events, are a good way to do this. In addition, you can divide your team up into smaller groups and assign different partners on a rotating basis. That way, employees will get to know each other while simultaneously learning to value each other’s professional strengths.
- Don’t forget to set shared objectives and review achievements as a team. If you want your employees to collaborate, they need shared goals. They also need to see how they’re progressing towards those goals. Hold weekly meetings to not only keep everyone up to date on the team’s latest accomplishments, but also to keep them motivated.
Fostering an environment where employees enjoy working together successfully is an ongoing endeavor that requires insight, patience, and perseverance. So keep these pointers in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a workplace that naturally encourages collaboration.