Henry Ford once said that “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. Today, more than half a century later, his words still apply to the modern workplace.
We live and work in the age of automation, where more and more tasks are being assigned to machines, but even so, the importance of human collaboration hasn’t faded. On the contrary. A proactive, team-oriented mindset can boost productivity in your organisation, leading to better problem solving and fewer bottlenecks. It can also create a healthy, friendly environment where employers actually want to learn, grow, and perform.
A business is very much like a sports team. You may have the most talented players out there, but if they don’t know how to work together in a team and support each other, you won’t win the championship.
In theory, all managers are down for teamwork and would actually like to see more collaboration in day-to-day processes. In practice, boosting workplace collaboration can be a complex process that requires you to change your company culture, re-evaluate your recruitment process, and educate existing employees.
Here are some tips that can help you create a collaborative workplace:
1. Hire more team players
It’s easier to hire someone who is a great communicator and team player than turn an individualistic employee into a better collaborator, which is why you should start by assessing your recruitment process.
What qualities are you looking for in your candidates and what are the differentiating factors between them? If until now you’ve only focused on work experience, performance, and hard skills, you should start by including more questions about teamwork in your interviews. Ask candidates if they would rather work alone or in a team, or, if possible, create scenario-based group interviews to see how well candidates interact with each other.
Do you have to choose between a skilled, highly intelligent candidate who hates working with others and a less experienced, but motivated and friendly one? Choose the latter. They may not have the know-how right now, but they will grow with your organisation, learn from others, and in time they will prove a better asset than an individualistic worker.
2. Encourage team members to get to know each other
No one likes to have a bad time at work and isolate themselves from others, and yet so many employees who are full of potential end up doing just that. Why? One reason could be that they don’t feel connected enough with their jobs. In fact, according to several studies, getting to know their colleagues could help employees be more productive and stay loyal to their jobs:
- 97% of employees believe that not being in sync with the team can affect the final result
- 63% of employees would keep their current job if they could communicate better with their colleagues and managers
Take the time to analyse employee dynamics at work. How well do they know each other? Do their interactions resume to saying hi and exchanging a few words by the watercooler? If so, you may want to give them more opportunities to learn more about each other. Teammates don’t necessarily have to be friends, but they’re much likelier to collaborate if they have shared experiences.
Plan a cool teambuilding session, allow them to interact outside of work. The office isn’t always the right place for personal interactions, because there are deadlines to meet and employees may not feel at ease. Instead, hanging out outside of work and taking part in teambuilding activities encourages them to open up, feel more comfortable around each other, and develop trust.
3. Offering Scholarships and Training To Improve Their Skills
Your team must always keep up with the current market trends and skills. It is impossible to improve your quality of productivity without improving your skills and knowledge. You can send a select group to a level 5 diploma in health and social care to get the necessary management skills. The elite group will then school their colleagues on what they will learn in school. You should make a proper selection of the members to attend to maintain harmony and teamwork.
The organisation of specific seminars and training regime will also collectively raise your team’s skill and management level. You will improve the responsibility and accountability by ensuring the entire team is at the same skill level. This training will also act as a team-building activity as the members will learn and practice together in their tests.
4. Set a personal example
Every change in your organisation should start from the top. If you want your employees to communicate and work together, you need to set a personal example and practice what you preach.
If the upper management doesn’t care about the team and displays an individualistic mindset, you can’t expect the rest of the company to do otherwise. Interact with your team, share your thoughts and practice transparency to increase trust. A great manager should be a team player as much as a team leader, so don’t hesitate to roll up your sleeves when necessary and work together with your employees.
Many managers are afraid of doing this for fear that they might lose their employee’s respect, but being a team player doesn’t mean giving up your authority. As long as you keep some boundaries, they’ll still see you as their boss.
5. Create an open office environment
Employees are more likely to work together, brainstorm and think of problem-solving if the office layout allows them to do this. The age of cubicles and closed working environments is finally coming to an end, as more and more managers begin to understand that employees shouldn’t feel like they’re trapped.
Make sure the people who should be working closely together have offices next to each other and that there aren’t any physical barriers standing in the way of communication.
One small gesture that means a lot for your employees is leaving your door open when you’re available. This shows them you’re ready to talk to them, and you’re not some unapproachable executive. In large companies, executives choose glass walls or doors for their offices to boost trust and transparency, but keeping the door open has pretty much the same impact on employee morale.
6. Reward team players
Employees work best when given positive feedback, so if you see them brainstorming how to fix an issue or improve a product, let them know you appreciate their initiative. From time to time, talk to employees and supervisors personally to sense the vibe in the office and find out which team members stand out. Is there someone who always tries to help others, welcomes constructive criticism, and loves coming up with new ideas? Praise them, because that could be a new pillar in your office.
As always, there’s the risk of hearing about negative examples: employees who are overly competitive, refuse to help their colleagues and want to build their success on other people’s failures. The first thing you should do in their case is to ignore them when they try to stand out. Is there someone who constantly interrupts others during meetings? Don’t let them talk until the others have finished talking. If the selfish behaviour continues, let them know this kind of attitude will not be tolerated and warn them whenever they cross the line. Ultimately, if they refuse to adapt and create a bad mood in the office, it’s better to let them go and look for a candidate who matches your company’s profile.