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May 24, 2024 Leslie Beale, PCC, JD

Can’t We All Just Get Along? The Importance of Creating a Collaborative Team Culture

Jamie was frustrated. He had just been assigned a new project, and a new project team to support it, but he couldn’t seem to get them on the same page. They made decisions without consulting each other, failed to communicate in a timely or efficient way, and seemed more like a group of individuals than a team working to accomplish the same goal.

The seasoned manager knew he needed to get his employees to work together more effectively--and he needed to do it quickly. He cleared his calendar for the day, set an out-of-office notification, and grabbed his “brainstorming” notepad. What was it going to take for him to turn this group into a team?

Collaboration Begins with Leadership

According to Corel’s 2022 State of Collaboration Survey, 78% of respondents claimed that company leadership wasn’t doing all they could to promote collaboration within their organization. These same employees reported time wasted per week due to lack of collaboration: 64% lost at least three hours, and 27% lost six hours--nearly an entire workday. Even worse, the survey reported that poor collaboration in the workplace had caused 41% of the workers to consider seeking employment elsewhere.

When strong leaders become role models for collaborative behavior, give equal weight to tasks and relationships, and provide the training employees need to boost collaboration skills, they also set the stage for their organizations to have results today and compounding success tomorrow. Jamie had seen this situation before, and realized it was his responsibility, as a leader, to create a culture of collaboration within his team. Read on to learn more.

Good Leaders Send the Message

Collaborative behavior really does start at the top. If a team leader can’t collaborate with their peers or sends the message that other teams and departments are somehow the enemy, the team itself will be highly unlikely to embrace any other mindset. In addition, it’s crucial that the leader collaborate with their own team by meeting with them, seeking their input, and actively listening to their opinions. Finally, leaders should promote trust among their workers by facilitating opportunities to strengthen inter-office relationships. Friendships at work contribute to reduced absenteeism, higher accountability, and an overall inviting atmosphere that will spill over into customer experiences.

Good Leaders Place Equal Importance on Tasks and Relationships

When leaders focus on and give recognition for task completion without paying attention to the relationship metrics such as turnover and engagement, collaboration suffers. For example, tolerating a star performer who creates unnecessary conflict in the workplace, or allowing unclear job descriptions to create discord and unnecessary overlap. Offering a clear vision of what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and who should be responsible, wise leaders maintain strong morale and communication with and between their team members while simultaneously rewarding them for a job well done.

Good Leaders Supply Soft Skills Training

Sometimes teams don’t practice collaboration because they neglect to realize its importance--or prefer not to invest the time. But collaboration often fails simply because workers don’t have the basic skills they need to do it well. Good leaders determine which barrier is at play with their staff, and take responsibility for addressing it. This may mean coaching the team themselves, reaching out to HR or L&D, or engaging an outside expert. Interpersonal skills such as emotional intelligence, effective communication, influence, persuasion, and appreciation are just a sampling of non-technical abilities that will form a solid foundation for healthy collaboration.

For Good Leaders, Collaboration is Always Within Reach

The Harvard Business Review survey, How Collaboration Wins: Leadership, Benefits, and Best Practices states that organizations who highly value collaboration compared to those who are neutral or give it a low priority reported 10% or more growth over the past two years--with 68% positioned solidly ahead of their competitors.

Fortunately for his company, Jamie recognized this. After taking the time to assess opportunities to model and boost collaboration within his own recently-assembled team, Jamie was well on his way to improving the speed and outcomes of their project, eventually surpassing even the CEO’s expectations. The added benefit: his team gelled so well that they were assigned to additional initiatives, with the top-level manager at the helm.

Do you need to build more capacity for collaboration within your organization? Give us a call; we’re here to help. And, if you want to discuss the hows and whys of collaboration, along with many other of-the-moment topics, register for our invitation-only Profusion Leaders Forum.

Published by Leslie Beale, PCC, JD May 24, 2024
Leslie Beale, PCC, JD