If there’s one subject that’s been much talked about in recent years in terms of work methods, it’s collaborative work. Yet concrete implementation often remains unclear. It’s not easy to know where to start and identify and prioritize the actions needing to be carried out to develop collaborative work within your company! What does it mean, by the way, “to develop collaborative work?”
Here are a few pointers to help you see things more clearly: landmarks that will help you (at last) take action.
Fostering the flow of information
Collaboration and communication are closely linked. The key to effective communication is sharing information and ideas. To encourage the flow of information and ideas, here are three areas your company can work on to create a breeding ground for more collaborative work: transparency, participation and decompartmentalization.
In the business world, “transparency” refers to real-time knowledge of who is working on what. This is not for the purpose of “policing” (which would certainly be counterproductive), but more so that information can circulate, projects can progress, and everyone can be more proactive in case of difficulties. On a project, transparency requires that all information be shared with all stakeholders: progress, problems encountered, advances and failures/blockages. To achieve this, collaborative platforms allow all information to be centralized in the same place.
Encouraging everyone to express themselves
Each of us has his or her own temperament. Not all your employees are extroverted, and not all of them necessarily like putting themselves or their actions out there. While it’s good to be aware of this, it’s especially important to make sure that everyone has a voice. Remember that adage, “Those who talk the most do the least?”
In the context of more collaborative work, the objective is precisely that everyone express themselves, that the projects progress thanks to the opinions and skills of each person. But for the shier among us, speaking on an instant messenger will be much easier than in a meeting in front of 15 people. Collaborative platforms or enterprise social networks such as Talkspirit encourage participation and involvement.
Breaking down information silos
Along with the self-censorship some of your shier employees might suffer from, another problem lies in information silos. This occurs when one group within a company does not communicate effectively and does not optimally share information with other groups. Often owed to an organization that is slightly too rigid, information silos don’t favor transversality.
On a smaller scale, the most obvious information silos are individual mailboxes: they might contain a lot of information and documents which could be useful to others, yet they remain private! Thus, when the employee leaves, all the information contained in his e-mails disappears …
Conversely, with an enterprise social network or the right collaborative tools, companies can improve information sharing and accessibility, thus improving productivity and encouraging development of collective intelligence.
Also read: Five Advantages of Collaborative Work
Putting the collective at the heart of your human resources management
Developing collaborative work means gradually moving towards a way of working that focuses on the collective rather than the individual.
Valuing collective performance
You must have noticed that we still tend to value individual performance first and foremost. Take compensation, for example: it’s more than common to offer a fixed salary with variable compensation based on individual objectives.
Of course, it’s quite normal for everyone to want their personal work to be recognized. But this should go hand in hand with recognition of collective performance—a balance we’re still far from achieving.
One way to achieve this is through the implementation of a profit-sharing agreement or collective bonus, rewarding (or not) collective efforts and success.
Simplifying internal mobility
Internal mobility is an essential issue for strengthening the collective aspect, for both employees and employers. On an individual level, a change of position or team enables people to learn from other ways of working. For a company, simplifying internal mobility makes its employees (and managers!) more adaptable, stimulates their inventiveness and questions their certainties, which in turn continuously breathes new life into the company.
Fostering an atmosphere of collaboration
Beyond lofty speeches and good intentions, collaborative work is also a matter of atmosphere.
A first step towards a more collaborative atmosphere is, of course, the decision to make greater use of collaborative tools internally:
- Encourage the use of instant messaging internally rather than e-mail
- Share all documents on a common directory hosted in the cloud
- Work in real time directly online on the same documents
Here are a few practices that are gradually helping to create a climate conducive to more collaborative work.
Creating a collaborative atmosphere becomes easier when the work environment is suitable. Avoid individual offices with closed doors. Instead, use open doors or even open spaces or a flex desk.
Bear in mind here that there are many ways to develop collaborative work within your company, but this transition must respond to a coordinated corporate strategy and be done step by step with care for the quality of the collaborative experience.
Have questions about which collaborative solutions to offer your employees? Talkspirit teams are available to answer and guide you through your projects.