Workplace Collaboration: Collaborating towards success!

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A dated survey by The Grossman Group shows that over $37 billion are lost each year just due to “employee misunderstandings”. Sounds unreasonable but it is true! But why deem it unreasonable when misunderstandings have been a part of our lives ever since the beginning of time? And we have learned to live with and around it. Often, people don’t realize the communication gap until it causes damage. And though the scale of the damage can differ and may seem economically recoverable, misunderstandings between people in the workplace can cost dearly to the business as well we professional relationships; jeopardizing the success of the organization.

As widely said, ‘Prevention is better than Cure”, it wouldn’t take a genius to anticipate that preventing communication gaps is far more effective than fixing its repercussions. And a bit of backtracking may yield various reasons for the communication gaps. Here are some examples:

“My client always ends up expecting something more than what I have done. I wonder how I can meet their expectations one hundred percent?” We never deliver on time. Just don’t get how we spill all the time”

Are these just communication gaps? It may be visualized as incorrect expectations set with the client or unreal timelines committed by the team. But to be honest, there is much more going on behind these. It could be a case of inaccurate understanding of the task at hand, mismatched priorities, or even intentions. I could go on and on trying to list out the possible reasons behind these gaps. There could be no end to the list. The point to note is that the communication gap isn’t the only line of fault. There are other factors that eventually lead to the gap. However, the good news: there is a single solution to all the possible factors!!

“Workplace Collaboration”. Workplace collaboration is nothing new. One may argue that I have been collaborating with my colleagues all my life. But still, we end up in a mess every now and then. Well, let’s try to find out.

Yes, we do collaborate every day with everyone. How we can say if that is enough? Or perfect? Or appropriate? Achieving true collaboration in which the entire team plays more than the mere sum of the individual parts. Yes, it is difficult in any environment. People must set aside their egos, trust one another, and share their expertise willingly. When a team collaborates smoothly, openly shares information, and is able to communicate seamlessly, they can work at their most effective level. On the other hand, when employees work in individual silos, it can take longer for a team to finish a project. Highly engaged people, more productivity, and an educated happier work culture are signs of good workplace collaboration. 

Knowing this fact; unfortunately, workplace collaboration remains one of those commonly under-utilized tools for project success. Many of us will accept the fact but still like staying in our little bay of expertise, comfortable in our silos, and never seeking out true collaboration. It’s easy to put your curtains on and get the job done, but that’s not what drives success, or growth, both individually and organizationally.

One needs to think about this factor when it comes to the success of an organization. Workplace Collaboration depicts an educated happier workplace. It cultivates a sense of community within an organization, with employees feeling almost like they are a part of a family. Such an environment encourages them to go beyond the expectations of their role. When you communicate, you get fair access to skills and strength which helps to solve problems faster and innovate better. It also allows businesses to complete important projects and initiatives in a more efficient manner. With multiple individuals or departments involved, work can be distributed more evenly and efficiently to those who have the time and expertise. 

Tackling workplace collaboration comes down to three things – your company culture, workspace, and technology.  Certainly, we can strike a balance where one can work in silo but at the same time can collaborate well. It’s just a matter of thinking about how to achieve it. There can be several ways to do that, and no way is perfect. We need to think wisely and keep it purposeful. It’s simple but at the same time, it’s tricky. Let us touch base couple of them based on my own experience.

Lead by Example:

Leaders or executives in the organizations are the ones who can inculcate the collaboration. The effective collaboration mechanism they showcase; more others will respect and follow. Company leaders should support collaborative tools and strategy for the same.

Foster friendships:

Employees are more likely to be willing to collaborate and provide each other with critical feedback when they have developed a close friendship. leaders can help foster these friendships within the company culture by encouraging interaction outside of the office or setting aside funds for group bonding time. For such activities, we can leverage a corporate social network platform.

Know each other:

Different personality dynamics, skill sets, and experiences are present in every team. It is worth the effort to have everyone openly discuss likes and dislikes about communication, tasks, and personal focus.

Set team goals:

Ensure measurable goals are set on a quarterly basis. Getting the team to focus on goals will keep individual efforts aligned with desired outcomes.  Be willing to re-evaluate goals as needed. Each quarter the outcome of each goal is also published. This keeps everyone focused and transparent.

Establish collaboration tools:

Implementing the right tech tool is the key. Everyone must find it useful and not too complex to use it.  This helps everyone to be open on everything be it status or be it opinion on one topic. Such tools also help to conduct effective meetings. This will also help at times to get rid of feeling that meeting is a waste of time. 

Establishing a collaboration is just the beginning. Collaboration must be consistent and purposeful, with resources dedicated to its success. Well, every company has many superheroes or committed contributors already; but one can build productivity exponentially by getting them to work as a collaborative team.

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