Teamwork and Collaboration
Promoting a Collaborative Work Environment
Does your organization value and promote competition above collaboration? If so, it may be time to reassess these values and priorities. Although a moderate amount of friendly competition can have its advantages in inspiring individuals to strive harder to attain a goal, fierce competitiveness can become problematic at a number of levels and even get out of hand quite quickly if left unchecked. This can then have extremely detrimental effects on your organization.
Supporting a collaborative work environment among your employees is a better strategy, and one that is beneficial at all levels in the long-term. Collaboration encourages not only an active exchange of ideas and information but, more broadly, it puts the needs of the wider team or whole organization front and center. Collaboration also minimizes potential envy/jealousy among co-workers and in general promotes a healthier work environment.
The main benefits of fostering a collaborative atmosphere include:
- The Power of Information. The enthusiastic sharing of information in a collaborative team environment leads to more informed problem solving and higher productivity. When every employee is encouraged to share knowledge, new ideas, and best practices, your organization benefits tremendously. It is advisable and desirable to identify an information-sharing system, thereby discouraging information hoarding (clearly a counter-productive practice).
- Synergy. Don’t underestimate the potency of the valuable concept of synergy or the idea that the output of two or more employees if working together is greater than their individual outputs if working separately on their own. When your employees are clear on the team or organization’s goals, and when sharing of efforts and ideas is encouraged, cohesive teams of employees working together can deliver extremely powerful results.
A key foundation to building a collaborative working environment is to start by establish an atmosphere of trust and open communication. Start by hiring people who place cooperation, team working and operating together on tasks high on their lists of priorities. Then continue by letting your employees know that their opinions and input matter. Finally, don’t forget to recognize and reward exceptional team performance.
A collaborative work environment benefits not only the organization but it also benefits the employee on professional and personal levels. For example, working as part of an active and strong team can help individuals to develop their social skills because effective communication, listening, and the art of negotiation and compromise are essential to a collaborative workplace. Being part of a successful team in the workplace and making meaningful contributions to the team’s success can also boost an employee’s self-esteem and self-worth. Furthermore, team-oriented working environments allow exemplary leaders to start to emerge more frequently.
Promoting a collaborative work environment has many tangible advantages but it can be tricky to implement. Investing in an employee development program can take the guesswork out of this task and provide a plan that can bring the new collaborative culture into being much more readily.
Suzanne Updegraff is the Founder and CEO of EDSI. Their blog is at: blog.employeedevelopmentsystems.com