In a collaborative environment, everyone freely communicates and works together. Those who are part of the team easily feels like they are contributing to something much more significant than what they can individually achieve at work.
Better collaboration leads to bigger accomplishments, improved morale, and increased productivity. So, how can you help foster a collaborative spirit within your team?
1. Be Open for Innovation.
Let your team grow by encouraging them to voice out their ideas and question the status quo without getting judged. Help them adopt a “can-do” attitude, no matter how novel some of your ideas may be, so they can also live up to “can-do” expectations.
It helps if you incentivize innovation by giving your employees a cut in revenue-generating ideas, give them time to flex their creative muscles by working on side projects, or use a suggestion box to get ideas anonymously. Listen to employees and take their ideas seriously so that they will be more likely to come up with more ideas in the future. John Baker, CTO of DeployBot says,
Every employee wants to feel heard; whether they're contributing to the conversation with an innovative idea, providing valuable and healthy feedback, or gathering additional information so they can increase performance, employees need to feel as though their leadership takes them seriously. An employee who feels heard is an employee who's willing to speak up and help lead the mission.
If you do get ideas that you disagree with, don’t shoot them down negatively. Acknowledge the merits of the idea first, then bring up the aspects that need more work, hence letting them down easy with constructive instead of critical comments.
2. Recognize What Drives Your Employees.
Motivated employees can have a significantly positive impact on your organization by improving efficiency, increasing employee retention rate, and reducing costs. Knowing what keeps this motivation up will amplify all these effects for your entire organization.
You can outright ask your employees what drives them, use your skills of observation, learn more about their personal life, particularly their hobbies and interests, and reinforce their good behavior by finding ways to uplift them.
A 2017 global study conducted by the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and the Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute showed that employees who experience a sense of purpose, belongingness, happiness, achievement, and vigor are likely to perform better, go above and beyond what’s expected of them, and are less likely to leave their jobs.
3. Let Them Be Individuals.
Having employees doing their job like robots by simply complying with all your policies may not give your organization room for growth and improvement. It is important to allow your employees some form of autonomy. Let them work under guidelines, but with the freedom to do their best at their work. This would allow them to be innovative, creative, and effective. Tom Malesic, President of EZSolution says,
As managers and leaders, we often try to solve things that our teams can do themselves. Let the team identify and solve problems and opportunities. Our teams have their own weekly meetings with an hour dedicated to solving problems. This has empowered our people because they get to lead and direct their outcomes.
Autonomy at work increases job satisfaction, likely because employees feel a greater sense of responsibility for the quality of their work. It has also been seen to improve happiness and motivation, reducing employee turnover in return. Foster autonomy in the workplace by being responsive to employees’ perspectives, offering them opportunities to choose, and avoiding controlling language.
If you want your team members to work well, then let them discover the story of each member. Give them a chance to tell their story so everyone can understand each individual’s journey. It can improve empathy and understanding among everyone in the team, making collaborative efforts run smoothly.
4. Encourage them to Socialize Outside of Work.
No matter how busy everyone is, take the time to socialize with colleagues outside of work. During such events, there should be open channels of communication, better understanding, and a judgment-free zone. When employees learn about each other’s shared interests, similar backgrounds, or the same challenges, they can feel like they can relate to each other better, decreasing opportunities for biases and false objectifying.
Celebrate each other’s birthdays, organize happy hours, share your meals, play sports together, and go on trips. Find some interests your employees have in common and start building some company traditions! Holiday activities, mealtime customs, or optional after work hangouts are all ways you can promote fun and employee relationships!
Having an office Secret Santa gift exchange or sweater contest during the holidays, a monthly board game or movie night, going to a sports event together, or Food Truck Fridays are some examples of morale-boosting and loyalty-building activities you can try.
5. Invest in an Employee Recognition Program.
Legendary organizations rely on collaborative efforts to continue their success. Stories of amazing collaborative work also boils down to recognizing collective accomplishment, not individual ones. Attaching bonuses and performance rewards to successful collaborations can motivate each team member to work even harder together.
Some creative ways to reward employees could include:
- Office perks
- Dinner with the boss
- The best parking spot
- Temporary personal assistant
- Free meal for the team
- Team shopping spree
- Certificate of achievement
- Spot awards
- Time off coupons
- Work-from-home day
- Indoor food truck.
- Paying off a personal loan online
No matter what rewards you give for hard work, it's important that it reflects the trust you have in your employees work ethics and quality. Recognition builds trust, and as your teams start to trust each other, their collaboration will be more effective and productive. Ben Roberts, Head of Marketing at Talkative says,
A way in which you can increase employee engagement and improve trust is to give trust. It sounds odd, but in order to gain your employees' trust, you have to give them trust first. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them flexibility. It’s hard to do, but your employees will feel far more valued.
6. Pay Them What They’re Worth.
If you see employees bringing value to your company, especially in collaborating well with other employees, give them the pay raise or bonuses that they deserve. Otherwise, they will take what they learn from working for you to another employer who is more than willing to show them just how much they are worth for real.
It is not worth it losing employees over the reason that you not paying them enough. It is much more costly to train new employees and take on the risk that the new hires who might not bring as much value to your organization than those who left. Temeka Thompson, CEO of Next Level Inc supports this saying,
It’s always cheaper to hire internally vs. externally; even if you offer a promotion or increase in salary. You don’t have to pay the extra costs for insurance, training and leave programs if you hire internally. Current employees already have a vested interest in the company and its mission
Higher compensation can have many benefits for your organization, including more motivated employees, reduced turnover rate, reduced cost of hiring and training new employees, and higher attraction for more capable and productive workers. And motivated employees can easily collaborate with equally motivated employees for the improvement of your organization.
7. Be Open to Remote Employees.
Although based remotely, distance isn’t stopping remote team members from working together. There are so many good collaboration tools available to the workforce now that are waiting to be used and maximized, such as Skype and Slack. You can easily connect with your remote team members with just a click of a button. It doesn’t matter whatever country you are based in as long as you have these tools.
While there are challenges presented by this remote arrangement, you can find ways to turn such challenges into opportunities. You can arrange for remote employees to undergo time management training, talk to them even about non-work related things, include them in annual get-togethers, create opportunities for them to bond with other employees through video conferencing or even bringing them together physically regularly, and set goals for them to contribute to so they would feel like a part of the company culture despite their remote location.
Lidia D. Staron is a passionate, creative writer and marketing manager at OpenLoans.com. As a financial advisor and financial planner, she knows that life is full of major events and crossroads. She enjoys helping people navigate through important financial decisions while avoiding common mistakes.