The world of work is changing fast. The pandemic has only amplified the uncertainty and the ambiguity. It has also disconnected the workforce and put us in a remote working environment, which not everyone was or is ready for. In the current working scenario, creating a highly collaborative workforce and enhancing organizational efficiency becomes all the more critical.
As Deloitte shares in a recent report, “Teams where workers feel psychologically safe bringing their views to the table, and where their relationships with other team members are strong enough to allow them to do so in an assertive yet constructive way, will be well positioned to engage in productive friction.”
But how can you build a highly collaborative workforce and enhance team effectiveness?
Know thy team
In an organization like LinkedIn, where people are working in multiple teams simultaneously, the key challenge was: how do they instill a culture of collaboration that’s also highly effective?
They quickly and timely realized that the first step towards a highly collaborative workforce starts with self awareness. Self-awareness is the foundation for everything else; improved communication, enhanced productivity and excellent teamwork. Through analytics, data, and insights from Insights Discovery solutions, the people at LinkedIn were able to recognize both their own and each other’s preferences, understand each other and work well together from the very start.
“Teams must work effectively together to be successful; investing in their development of self, and their interactions with others, is paramount,” said Tiffany Poeppelman, Senior Sales Performance Consultant.
It is critical for peers and leaders to know each other, the strengths and the opportunities to grow. With a better awareness of self and others, teams are able to easily work together, help each other, and learn from each other as well.
Leverage tech but put people at the heart of it
Today, there are a variety of digital tools and apps available in the HR tech marketplace to help people collaborate, network, and engage with each other. Apps like Slack, Trello, and Microsoft Teams, to name a few, have brought the geographically dispersed workforce closer and made it easier for everyone to work together. A study by McKinsey & Company found that improved communication and collaboration through social technologies could raise the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25 percent. But tech solutions are not enough.
While digital collaborative tools enable instantaneous communication with virtually anyone, the way people use that technology can—paradoxically—contribute to increased feelings of isolation. Simply having a digital tool at our fingertips doesn’t necessarily make us feel more connected; it needs to be much more intentional than that. We have to ask ourselves how these digital tools serve us as individuals, teams and organizations and really put people at the heart of any technology we use. Hence, the human element, compassion, and empathy must not be forgotten when using technology.
Introduce cross-functional projects
Sometimes collaboration lacks in organizations as employees are divided by siloed functions and not distance. How can leaders break that barrier? Again, it’s all about communicating more effectively. Silos usually occur when teams aren’t aligning and creating goals together – or when teams are using technology or terminology that other teams don’t understand. It’s only by being more transparent and sharing upcoming plans, projects – and problems – that organizations can get back on the same page.
Another way is to encourage talent from diverse roles is to work together on projects that add real value to the business. Bring together a diverse mix of capabilities, skills, background, and personality, and let them learn together.
This approach will not only enhance collaboration but also foster more innovation, as fresh ideas and more diverse perspectives may emerge.
Create & communicate a common purpose
The most diverse teams and personalities are at their best when they’re united by a common purpose. As Deloitte’s report highlights, employees wish to feel comfortable at work, and be treated fairly and respected by their colleagues. However, it’s also important that they feel that they’re contributing to meaningful work outcomes and that there is a ‘why’ for everything that they do. Purpose provides that why. If people are really clear on their purpose then everything else should fall into place.
Leaders should focus on creating a compelling purpose for the entire workforce, one that binds everything together. And this purpose should be regularly and consistently communicated in meetings, townhalls, newsletters, and daily conversations.
Celebrate the wins together
Creating an effective team is all about celebrating successes together.
All the efforts of the team, everyone’s individual contribution, and the importance of teamwork goes to waste if the achievements are not shared and celebrated. Creating a culture where the wins – even the small ones – are celebrated together helps build a more personal connection within the team. It also reinforces the strength of collaboration. For leaders, it should always be about ‘we’ and not just ‘me’, where all the contributions of individual team members are amplified on a regular basis.
It could seem a small and easy thing to do but it is extremely critical and has many benefits to strengthen collaboration among your workforce.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller