Collaboration is the latest buzzword in businesses and non-profits around the world. In today’s world of limited resources and increasing demand for services, collaboration is essential to the survival and success of an organization. Collaboration doesn’t magically happen; it takes effort from everyone at all levels to develop this capability. Here are 10 habits that exceedingly collaborative organizations exude:

They lead from the front

Collaborative behavior must begin with senior leaders if it’s to be embraced by the rest of the organization. To encourage collaboration, leaders first need to create a culture where anyone can ask questions and there are no stupid questions. Employees need to feel like they have a voice to become receptive to opening up.

Encourage personal accountability

By having policies in place to encourage personal accountability, employees work more efficiently on collaborative projects. Employees need to take ownership over tasks, seeing them through to completion and bearing responsibility for results, positive or negative. Managers must demonstrate personal accountability to set the tone and culture for the company.

Create a culture of mutual trust and respect

Organizations can create a climate of mutual trust and respect by providing ongoing communication feedback. Because sharing information is usually voluntary for individuals, keeping employees informed as to what is going on within the company, or during a project, will increase the level of importance the employee feels within the work place. Collaborative behavior is more likely when there is a level of trust that is already established.

Align employee and management with core values and goals

Teams execute goals more efficiently when the beliefs that influence their choices are aligned. In the absence of shared values and goals, organizations suffer inefficiencies, lack of focus and ultimately strategic failure. These values and goals need to be well communicated across the organization. Strategy execution software such as Envisio help organizations align their team, provide visibility and foster accountability while empowering everyone to work collaboratively towards common goal.

Empower managers

The empowerment process starts at the top where senior leaders provide guidance to their mangers to execute on their strategies. Managers need to be empowered to make decisions that drive the results without being micromanaged. This allows managers to build an efficient and collaborative team.

Empower employees

Empowered employees will do their best to help grow your company by showing initiative. They take on and complete tasks efficiently with little guidance from management, and the organization needs to be set up to encourage employees to be self-motivated. Managers should give the team some space, flexibility and reward self-improvement.

Embrace technology

Technology has made it easier for teams to work together so distance is no longer an issue when it comes to collaboration. Collaboration tools come in many forms from file sharing, video conferencing to enterprise chat tools. They all aim to increase productivity and keep everyone connected while eliminating excessive emailing. Envisio provides an enterprise chat tool, called StratChat, linked to the individual’s deliverable so that employees can collaborate around the things that matter.

Keep hierarchical structures to a minimum

Keeping hierarchy of an organization to a minimum prevents information from being distorted as it is passed on (think of the game “Telephone” you played when you were a kid), as well as increasing the time and money involved with more “down-the-chain” communication. Managers in a “flatter” company tend to have more authority and because of that, perform effectively since they are more responsible for the company’s performance. Removing middle managers also increases motivation and coordination between employees, lowering operating costs.

Pool and share all stakeholder knowledge

Employees and teams work best when they are most knowledgeable. Creating a company database of all stakeholder knowledge that is accessible to each team member is important to keep everyone on the same page. Managers will have more time to focus on other issues, rather than answering questions that could be answered by this database of shared knowledge.

Overcome barriers

Organizations may wish to encourage and support internal collaboration, but change can be scary. To overcome internally built barriers and accept change, it’s first important to have a plan in place, along with tools to help along the way. Think about why you want to encourage collaboration and the steps you can take to make that happen. Be realistic with your goals and make small changes along the way to support that goal. Removing barriers may cause short-term pain within the organization, but in the long run it can cause increased performance, making the cost and effort more than worth the trouble.

How does your organization encourage collaboration?

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