Work teams are the first level of collaboration. To get the day-to-day work of the company done, you need teams who work together and support each other collaboratively, whether that’s in an operational department or a manufacturing cell.
People often feel strong emotional ties to their team members. They speak of having each other’s backs, or even of it feeling like family. In research, they often tell us they feel a much stronger connection to their immediate work team than to the company overall.
Cross-functional teams take collaboration to the next level. In companies with a strong overall vision that engages employees, we’re likely to see the second level of collaboration. Aligned with a common goal, employees collaborate across functions or geography or business units. Rather than confining their perceived team as their immediate work group or department, the sales team will see the product engineers as collaborative partners. The North American division will look to their colleagues in the EMEA regions for ideas. One apparel brand of a parent company will collaborate with another brand on developing better sourcing strategies.
The holy grail is having employees see the customer as their collaborative partner. Whether you’re selling technology or toilet paper, financial instruments or musical ones, a customer-centric focus indicates a highly evolved company culture.
This is not just for those employees are customer-facing. If you can create a sense of collaboration with the customer throughout the organization, you’ll be unstoppable. In an ideal world, employees will see their jobs in the context of the customer experience. Whatever they’re doing, from building a website to manufacturing products to developing a pricing structure to scheduling work flow, the big win is for them to see what they’re doing through the eyes of the customer and to consider their point of view.
Interested in taking collaboration to a new level in your organization? Tribe can help.