By Maggie Modersohn | November 20, 2015
Every organization needs to move faster, be more agile, work less, and get more done, and adopting a culture of collaboration is an important step in that direction. While deploying an enterprise collaboration tool such as Atlassian Confluence is a start, employee engagement is not automatic. We all know that behavioral change takes effort.
In this article, we'll look at ten strategies you can adopt to create and nurture a culture of collaboration.
It's no coincidence that Trust is the number one strategy. Putting trust in your employees automatically creates a culture of openness and shared responsibility. Allow everyone to contribute in as broad of a context as possible. Encourage participants to include positive feedback along with constructive criticism. Recruit team members from around the organization to lead by example: seeding conversations, posting feedback, and liking content. Include a platform for crowd-sourced questions and answers (such as Confluence Questions) to let subject matter experts decentralize the flow of information.
Just as important as trust, organizations need to learn how to be more transparent. Ambiguity and secrecy kill collaborative behaviors. Make a habit of informing all employees of decisions, successes and failures. Go beyond announcing decisions after they are made by explaining the reasoning behind them, and by opening a dialogue. Whatever knowledge you accrue or project you manage, share it with everyone.
Leadership behavior naturally sets the tone for other employees. Embracing trust and transparency is a key first step. Then welcome and publicly acknowledge feedback, and remember that great leaders take credit for both good and bad. Recast negative feedback as an opportunity to engage the community in creating solutions.
This might seem trivial, but setting a light tone at work helps contributors open up, especially those new to your company or team. Humor connects people and collaboration puts emphasis on people. Managers who can make a meeting room laugh will be more approachable and will learn more about what makes their people tick.
5. Rewarding The Right Behavior
People don't like change and will naturally try to do things the old way. Find small ways to reward anyone who shares knowledge, asks questions, or connects with colleagues across borders or departments in meaningful ways. Rewards can be anything from a virtual collaborator medal to a small gift, or simply a public shout-out. These will encourage other employees to follow their lead.
Technology will always just be a means to put strategy into practice. But picking the right collaborative tools (such as Atlassian Confluence or HipChat) can help your team become more collaborative. With the right tools, it won't matter where people are, or in which time zone. You will always be able to connect, discuss ideas, and make collaborative decisions.
Your organization has a distinctive personality and culture. Does your collaboration platform reflect that, or does it look and feel like a foreign body? If your culture celebrates successes or personal events such as birthdays, make sure that's part of the online conversation. Think of ways to connect people and show that your people come before the product or the corporation. Collaboration is all about people, so add the human touch wherever possible.
8. Invite And Master Conflict
Collaboration doesn't automatically mean consensus. There is always room for disagreement or conflict. Encourage respectful and constructive dialog to get the most from everyone and create the best possible outcomes. Criticizing ideas is easy but blocks progress, so ask that negative feedback be given with ideas for possible solutions to keep things moving.
If you collaborate for the sake of collaboration, you're doing it wrong. Efforts should be aligned with your overall business objectives and values. Are people earning bonus points for for simply liking and posting trivial comments on blog posts, or posting funny cat pictures? Challenge teams to find new ways to produce results or connect people. Decentralize this activity, and then socialize those ideas that have an impact.
Chances are your people feel too busy to learn new tools that promise a better way of working. So find ways to make using them inevitable. Instead of sending emails with information, email links to content in your collaboration platform. Change the way your team works to make one weekly activity possible only by logging in, and be sure that task is easier on the new system than the old way. Then engender a culture of moving conversations into the tool, regardless of where they start.
Changing behavior isn't easy, but taking small steps, enlisting your people, and adding a dose of creativity will go a long way to make your teams work better, faster, and smarter.