Yet many businesses are still not capitalising on the power of teamwork. This is odd since today’s businesses have access to more communication and collaboration tools than ever before.
So why should businesses care about collaboration? And how can they foster it?
A recent study by Stanford University showed that people who work collaboratively stick to tasks 64 percent more than their solitary peers, and that they report much higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels and higher success rates. In fact, the research went so far as to claim that “people working together towards common ends” is a “defining aspect of human society”.
And, of course, that’s true. Neil Armstrong didn’t get to the moon on his own – hundreds of people worked together for years in order to make his “giant leap for mankind” possible. Likewise, Edmund Hillary, often credited as being the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, did not make his historic climb alone: he was helped all the way by Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who rightly joined him at the top.
In fact, looking at all of humanity’s greatest achievements – from the construction of the Egyptian Pyramids to the invention of quantum mechanics – most were the result of people working together.
Bringing it back to the realm of business, another study – this time a joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College – found that companies which promoted collaborative working were five times as likely to be high performing. But only a relative minority managed to achieve these results – despite all the companies examined in the study explicitly aspiring to be collaborative.
With so many methods of communication available – email, VoIP, instant messaging, conference calling, etc. – you’d think that modern businesses would be havens of collaboration.
The fact that they’re not indicates that something is wrong. In fact, often, several things are wrong. The good news is that there are plenty of things businesses can do to make their workforces more collaborative.
In order to foster collaboration, your team needs to know what they’re working toward. When you create a clear and compelling mission, you make it much more likely that your team will want to work hard toward achieving it. By cultivating passion and drive, you will inspire your team to work harder. By making sure everyone is on the same page, you will make collaboration easier – since everyone will be aiming at the same thing.
Often, getting people behind your cause can take as little as showing them why they’re doing what they’re doing – or showing them how their role fits into the bigger picture of the company at large. Once staff understand how what they’re doing impacts and builds toward their company’s overarching objectives, they will not only get an understanding of how important their tasks are, they will also see how their successes and failures affect other team members.
By highlighting and celebrating people and teams which been successful at collaborating, you can begin to integrate collaboration into your corporate culture. Whether it’s giving your best collaborators awards or prizes, or sharing their story via company video, in your newsletter, via the annual report or at a seminar, celebrating collaborative success will create an incentive for others to work collaboratively.
In order for collaboration to really be effective, it must be consistent and purposeful. By showing that your company actively supports collaborative working – and that it is willing to back that support by making collaborative resources available – you will inspire other team members to get into the collaborative spirit.
Different people have different strengths. But, unless they feel they can display and utilise them, they may not use them. That is a huge loss for your business, and one that can lead to missed efficiencies and overly-complex processes.
To avoid this, it’s important you empower each team member by allowing them to utilise their individual skills and talents. This could mean simply giving team memberships ownership of areas they have a penchant for. Or, going further, it could involve having team members take a personality test (such as the Myers-Briggs assessment) and sharing the results together. This will help your team get a better understanding of themselves as well as help them understand one another better – making it easier to collaborate successfully.
Strict hierarchies are collaboration killers. So much so that many businesses are now moving to flat organisational structures – or structures in which there are few or no levels of middle management between staff and executives. In fact, Elon Musk once told his Tesla staff that, “You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission.” And that any manager that prevents this, “…will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.”
Mr Musk clearly understands strict hieratical communication often results in missed opportunities, slower decision making and dissuades collaboration. Instead, in order to maximise effective collaboration, each staff member should have the opportunity and platform to express themselves and their ideas, with decisions being made transparently and inclusively. This does not necessarily mean adopting a flat organisational structure, but it does mean listening to staff and encouraging innovation.
It’s true, you can have too much of a good thing. And that can certainly be the case when it comes to collaboration tools. With so many methods of communication available, you want to make sure your team are all using the same tools and not complicating things by communicating over a litany of different platforms.
The best option is a comprehensive, unified communications solution. This will provide everything businesses need to connect, communicate and collaborate across blended environments. This means a single application for voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing, mobility and team collaboration. By giving your staff access to a comprehensive communications platform that can provide a consistent experience across all devices, you put in place the channels necessary to support a truly collaborative workforce.
MiCollab is a modern unified communications and collaboration tool designed to create a highly collaborative workspace and foster teamwork. MiCollab unifies voice, video, chat, messaging, web conferencing and team collaboration – meaning your team can access a variety of communications mediums via one solution. This makes it incredibly easy for employees to connect with one another and breaks down siloed team environments.
Whether at their desk, using their desktop client or on the go, with MiCollab, your team can easily share knowledge and ideas when collaborating on projects. This allows information to flow more fluidly through your organisation and helps you create a collaborative digital environment.
By unifying communications, MiCollab also makes it easy for organisations working over multiple locations to consolidate communications processes and integrate consistent systems across all offices. By having your entire workforce follow the same communications processes, you will further encourage collaboration – even when employees are working in different locations.
MiCollab can be integrated with other business applications, including Outlook, IBM Sametime and Google applications. This ensures that you can make the most of the solution without compromising existing processes.
As a Mitel Gold Partner, we are perfectly positioned to help your organisation improve collaboration with MiCollab. We offer a range of Mitel solutions, and our highly-trained account managers will create a bespoke solution designed to suit your specific business needs, which will be delivered and installed by our dedicated Mitel Accredited deployment and engineering team.
Elite Group is the leading unified communications provider. We work with businesses looking to improve workplace collaboration by equipping them with industry-leading tools and solutions.