As our workplace grows increasingly dependent on highly specialized knowledge experts and their intellectual capital, collaboration becomes more and more essential. To complete complex projects, to develop company-wide innovation or to tackle any other initiative that involves more than one discipline, a collaborative work environment will be key to your company’s success.
Why should that be so difficult? For one thing, if you’ve been lucky enough to attract star talent across a wide range of job functions, you’ll likely be dealing with personalities who prefer to be left alone to do what they do best.
On the up side, collaboration is a fantastic builder of employee engagement. When employees across many industries are asked what makes them want to stay with their current employers, one of the most frequent responses is “the people I work with.”
Here are 5 tips for successful collaboration at your company:
1. Cast a wide net in the beginning of a project. This is the time you want as many viewpoints as possible, with your objectives and challenges seen through the lens of various departments, disciplines and experience levels.
2. Identify a core team that will be responsible for the work going forward. It’s not practical, cost-efficient or even possible — given most employees’ schedules — to include everyone in every meeting.
3. Give that core team decision-making authority. Once they’ve had input and suggestions from all interested parties, the core team needs to have the autonomy to proceed without checking back every time they make a decision. Let them figure it out and get it done, without putting a lot of hierarchal drag on the process.
4. Have one person be the lead of the project. This may not be the highest ranked person on the team, but it should be someone who can make the project a priority and keep it moving forward with some degree of autonomy. If you don’t trust this person’s judgement or decision-making abilities, you’ve got the wrong project leader.
5. As much as possible, ignore hierarchy. Collaboration leads to more innovation and greater business success if the process allows for easy sharing of information and insights. What you want is the collective wisdom of a bunch of smart people working together — and ideally, for them each to feel that their knowledge and ideas are needed.
6. Communicate progress to the entire group. While the core team is moving the project through its process of development, be sure to send occasional updates to the whole group, including a timeline with upcoming milestones.
7. Circle the wagons again before going live. Get the entire group together one last time before the launch, with the understanding that many decisions made along the way cannot now be unmade. The purpose is not for them to find fault, but to suggest anything that could improve the success of the launch before it’s revealed to the world. The other benefit of this meeting is that it creates widespread pride in the accomplishment and enlists the entire team as ambassadors for the project.
8. Give recognition. It’s important to celebrate both the teamwork required and the individuals involved, when collaboration results in a successful outcome. Not only is it important to those employees, but it also lets other employees know that the company values collaboration across job functions.
Interested in improving collaboration at your company? Tribe can help.