Six Strategies to Drive Collaboration

I got a new client recently, one that I am excited about working with. First, because they are a referral from another client and that is always fun work to do. Second, because they are ready to make some changes. And third, because they are suffering from a problem that I just love to work on and solve. It is a problem that I like to call “the silent profit sucker.” My new client is suffering from lack of collaboration among their teams, their departments and their leaders.

Now, they do not know this is the problem. In their minds it is an unexpected and quite sharp decline in profitability due to a project that is past deadline and over budget. They are frustrated with their vendor, with the team assigned, and with the technology.

They think their problem is strategy, or lack of it. In addition to the absence of accountability. While they are partially right, they are missing the underlying challenge that is really causing their problems.  That challenge is collaboration or lack of it.

Collaboration is the action of two or more people working together to ensure completion of a task or a project. That is the technical definition; however, I think collaboration is so much more than that. In business, collaboration is where the rubber meets the road. It is the magic that happens when individuals work collectively together to achieve a goal.

The magic is increased productivity, decreased stress, absence of drama, and the creation of innovation. Who doesn’t want a workplace like that? Those silent profit builders every company truly needs to succeed in today’s marketplace.

In this marketplace, margins are skinny and competition is fierce. To really make it, you have to ensure every level of your organization is running at top speed, and working together.

Here are my Six Strategies for Igniting Collaboration!

  1. Start at The Top

If you want your team to collaborate, then you, the leader, need to collaborate. Always remember, actions speak louder than words. So, if leaders are looking to work together, gather input from other departments, or talk to competition about partnering. Then, you will see your teams begin to naturally collaborate, without you even saying a word.

  1. Create One Goal

Yes, every department and every team must have their own goals and objectives. However, if you want them to collaborate, they need a unifying goal. One that integrates their goals, and helps them look for reasons to work together and help each other succeed.

  1. Inspire Skin in The Game

It might be easier to tell people to collaborate, but telling never gets the results, that asking does. For true collaboration, teams need skin in the game. As the leader, you own the what. But the how best to do it, that belongs to the team. When you ask people for their input, you not only get great ideas and input, but you inspire ownership.

  1. Feedback Bottom Up

A big part of collaboration is feedback. For collaboration to work, you need to ensure that it comes from every direction, including bottom up. The power of collaboration is getting other departments, other teams, other people with different perspectives to weigh in on your projects. Giving you fresh ideas and innovative solutions.

  1. Invest in Relationships

Unfortunately, you can’t just wave a magic wand and get people to collaborate. Collaboration happens when there is trust, and trust comes when people have formed relationships. So, as leaders you need to foster social time, encourage people to connect, and allow personal relationships to build. When relationships build, trust is formed, and with trust comes the power of collaboration.

  1. Recognize, Reward, Emulate

So often, incentives and rewards are only given for bottom line results. Ironically, to get better bottom line results, you need to really be rewarding the behaviors you want. So next time you look at that  review or  incentive program, think about adding rewards for behaviors and actions you see around collaboration.

There you have it, the six strategies for igniting collaboration. How do you inspire collaboration? I’d love to hear your thoughts on getting your team to work together.