It’s time to clue in to Collaborative Cultures
A Collaborative Culture: “One where collaboration is regular and deliberate. Collaboration doesn’t just occur if someone happens to initiate it. Instead, it’s baked into processes of how people do their work every day and into the attitudes they take about that work.” Atlassian
There are multiple benefits that ensue from a collaborative culture (organisational growth, team happiness, employee retention, open communication, innovation to name a few) and it’s a foundation subject at ICC, something we support many clients to improve. Collaboration is also one of ICC’s five pillars of high-performance: a key component to ensuring that your organisation is on course for growth, enabling collective intelligence and allowing creative solutions to be discussed and formed.
We’ve lost count of the number of times clients have said to us “We need to collaborate more but we’re not sure how to do it”. This isn’t just a case of scheduling more meetings (because who needs more meetings?). Collaboration is embedded and the bad news is that it’s unlikely to happen overnight. However, there are a heap of marginal uplifts that you can introduce to help improve your collaboration:
- Fix Your Tech: Remember the days of the Intranet? – huge investments pouring into sophisticated global networking systems that many firms never used. It’s vital to conduct the bottom-up work on what your people need. If you have a collaboration platform that isn’t user-centred and value-driven, people won’t trust it and then won’t use it. Make user-training a default, and ensure your chosen system can withstand the pressure of multi-application crowd-usage.
- Make Feedback Easy: What digital, verbal or in-person options are available for people when providing input about a process, an idea, a colleague or other stakeholder? Simplify procedures and they’ll get traction, complex ones get avoided.
- Challenge Communication Preferences: Slack or Teams? Email or Asana? Zoom or Webex? Traditional in-person or verbal conversation hands down builds better relationships than exchanging text. It generally follows that decisions are made more quickly too. How many games or sets of digital tennis do you play before you decide to jump on a call?
- Build Clearer Meeting Schedules: What’s the purpose of the meeting, is there a shared and understood outcome? Does the meeting deliver real value or move activity forward? How relevant are attendees, are you backside-covering or employing social graces by inviting the world, or do we have a crack-team of like-minded, outcome-driven stakeholders? Collaborative meetings should be productive and efficient, while encouraging sharing, fine-tuning and implementation of diverse ideas. Use this as your quality filter. Optimum attendee numbers for achieving this? – minimum 4, optimum 6, maximum 8.
- ‘Away-from-office’ Events: these are prime opportunities to encourage teams to interact with each other outside of formal functional or project teams. Informal and risk-free collaboration leads to more enthusiasm about collaboration on real-time projects and ideas. Don’t fancy building bridges or Lego towers? Toes curl at the prospect of a treasure hunt or X Factor competition? Get the appropriate platform nailed for your community, if it feels culturally misaligned, the word collaboration gets associated with it.
Our Co-Founder recently delivered a keynote on collaborative cultures and, towards the end of the session, she asked the question: ‘What one action can you take to help develop a collaborative culture?”. We received responses in the hundreds, some highlights:
- Be a ‘go-to’ person
- Share and celebrate team successes
- Share knowledge and experience within and across teams
- Don’t ask team members to perform a task you would not perform
- Really, properly listen to others
- Remove fear from the mix
- Empower individuals to feel comfortable about proposing solutions
- Be open to others’ ideas, take your ego out of the equation
- Talk to colleagues more, we are all experiencing things differently
- Believe in the rock-star qualities of others
- Invite ideas and curiosity, remove the stigma of challenge
- Create an environment where failure is openly communicated but always learned from
- Incremental steps will create a larger impact than you might expect
To commence your Collaboration Campaign, hold close the mantra of Robert Matthew Van Winkle: “Stop, Collaborate and Listen”