Building a Culture of Collaboration
As the way of doing business has shifted – meeting fatigue has morphed into Zoom fatigue. When that started happening, as L&D is prone to do – we started throwing tools at the problem, creating a whole new type of fatigue – I’ll call it “activity fatigue”.
We mean well – but throwing all manner of collaboration tools into every Zoom meeting creates a whole new level of mental fatigue. What is apparent is we have to move from simply implementing collaborative tools to nurturing a collaborative culture.
While the benefits of a collaborative work environment are clear, creating one doesn’t happen overnight. How can we work towards a higher level of team collaboration by incorporating solid communication habits and then using the appropriate tools that encourage a culture of collaboration?
Grasping collaboration barriers
In order to begin nurturing a culture of collaboration, we must first understand what is holding the team back. We must gain an understanding of why the culture doesn’t exist (or is untenable). Common reasons are:
- A systemic belief of “My idea doesn’t count”.
- Unclear collaboration processes: “I’m not sure it’s the right time to share.”
- A culture that rewards competitive behavior over collaborative actions.
- Teams are stuck or encouraged to remain in silos.
- The business struggles with “Superiority Illusion”: the belief that you are better than average or “I’m better than they are, so I’ll do it myself”.
- Fear of being caught up in group think.
Sound familiar? It does to me, and it might even be floating in your own head when you head into meetings that require collaboration and ideation.
Here’s the thing about barriers. They never quite go away – they just shift. The idea is to mitigate what you can when you can. Once you have identified the barriers it’s time to sense check the following 6 features.
6 features of a culture of collaboration
You’ve identified your collaboration barriers – now it’s time to investigate and where possible implement the following 6 features.
Engagement: Does your collaboration session have a sense of excitement? Do people want to be a part of your ideation group?
Communication Ground Rules: Are you incorporating elements of psychological safety in your sessions? Are your sessions a safe place to gather and share? Here’s a past newsletter discussing the concept of psychological safety.
Shared Knowledge: Is there a process in place to share knowledge across the organizations that break down silos? There are times when it’s necessary to keep information within the group, but for the most part, a sharing organization is a bedrock of success.
Transparency: Is the organization transparent with information? An organization that operates in secret will hinder collaboration and innovation efforts.
Collaboration Spaces: Are there spaces that encourage creative thought? Meeting spaces rarely invoke creativity. Create spaces that are energizing, comfortable, and have the tools to brainstorm.
Purposeful tools: Saving the best for last! There are MANY tools on the market that allow for creative collaboration, but are they really useful? Do they serve a purpose beyond being “fun”. Can they help support and enable strategies across departments? Having a free tool that is not helpful to the business is more costly than paying for a tool that helps many.
To wrap this up:
It’s easy to get caught up in the L&D mantra of “sharing is caring”. But not everyone has the same mindset or finds the concept easy to build into their personal culture. Planning to address barriers and accounting for a variety of personalities before a collaboration session is key. However, more importantly, is nurturing a sustainable culture of collaboration.
So, I’ll leave you with these questions:
How do we shift the paradigm from hoarding information to a culture of collaboration; or from silos to shared communities?
How are we setting the example for empathic collaboration?
I look forward to your ideas and responses below. ~ Stay rebellious!