How To Effectively Boost Employee Collaboration

While employees have tasks to accomplish, they exist as more than a single cog in the staff wheel. Instead, they are part of a much larger system that, like many other things in life, work best when fine-tuned to work together. Therefore, when your staff embraces collaboration, they move beyond seeing themselves as isolated pieces; instead, looking at improving the whole workforce and company in general. How does management establish such an environment? How do you convince individual people to embrace the collaborative model? Begin by showing the value and need for this mindset and provide the necessary tools to make it happen. Proprietors may find the following five concepts helpful in creating a synergistic office.

Model Open Mindedness

Employees look to management to lead, and this concept includes how they promote interaction and value team effort. As the face of the company, staff members look to you as the primary example. Closed-minded management refuses to change, sticking to an individual plan. This form of leadership encourages others to do their own thing. Being open to suggestions, however, shows team effort. When you appreciate this thought process, staff may listen to others more, broaden their scope and accept new concepts. 

Embrace Communication Tools

Like in sports, team players talk with each other. They bounce around ideas, maintain clear lines of communication and assist when needed. If people are in their own offices, unable to contact others quickly, this process becomes hard. Minimize frustrations and increase discussions by purchasing tools that allow people to quickly and efficiently talk about projects, concerns or ideas. Invest in video conferencing, a data wrangling cheat sheet and online platforms to reduce communication barriers.

Establish Team Time

People get busy with their projects, trying to knock out what they have on their daily to-do list. They may not always take the time to see others or sit around and talk. Isolated team time, however, could mitigate this concern, allowing people to weekly or daily catch up with each other. Set clear expectations for people to follow. How often should groups get together? How long should they meet? What are deadlines for everyone to follow? Let them explore, review and critique during these times.

Encourage Socialization

While extroverted employees may readily talk with others, feeling free to share ideas and opinions, introverted staff members may shy away, keeping their thoughts and feelings to themselves. The difference has nothing to do with how good the points are. Extroverts tend to be more comfortable with immediate or unfamiliar situations, whereas introverts need to feel accepted before actively participating. To conquer this problem, focus on forming relationships and connections. After all, friendships do not have to be problematic. Instead, that close relationship permits for a better bond in which employees may express themselves more. Allow for social time in the office. Host luncheons; promote coffee breaks or walks. As people chat over lunch or perk up with some caffeine, they also discuss their lives, understanding each other a bit more and breaking down some of the walls that could hinder collaborative efforts.

Have Departments Interact

Collaboration doesn't just happen within specific teams or departments, and people need to reach out to each other throughout the company. When you hire someone new, avoid the temptation to pick a mentor from within the immediate group. Select a long-standing employee who works somewhere else in the business. This cross-departmental connection could prove valuable in the long run. The team provides the content, but this mentor discusses the company mission, protocols and expectations. Plus, you forge a connection to a person with other content knowledge who is readily available to pitch in when needed.

Collaboration brings minds together, exploring ideas and tapping into creativity. This act doesn't happen naturally, and the office environment and leadership play a significant role in how well and how often it occurs. Start by being open to others yourself, developing staff comfort, and setting aside time to collaborate.

Related: Handling Unexpected Conflicts In the Workplace