Collaboration is the new currency

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and staying together is success” – Henry Ford. 

The concept of collaboration is widespread in coaching and training. After all, a coach’s goal is to encourage overall growth and development, and collaboration is one of the critical elements that enable that. If you are a member of your organisation’s leadership team, what has your experience been in fostering a culture of evolution and collaboration?

How do employees perceive evolution? Sometimes, they welcome change, and sometimes, they see it as a threat. One key area where we face challenges is when we think collaboration is an event. Collaboration is a process that takes time to shape up—it’s a mix of pain and pleasure when we collaborate with people.

What is a collaborative mindset?

Fostering a collaborative mindset can enhance an organisation’s happiness factor. It is the key to better productivity than it would be without a teamwork mentality. Collaboration in business includes a few elements: workplace culture, goal setting, and transparent communication. A collaborative mindset is a checkbox and a means to achieve a common goal. Individual employees might suffer when they are alienated. Collaboration at work should trickle down right from the top.

Coaching plays a vital role in fostering this mindset. Coaches use an impartial and open approach to deal with the leadership team or the employees, which convinces the workforce of the importance of working together.

Strategies to Implement for Organizations to Foster a Collaborative & an Evolutionary Mindset:

Collaboration and evolution aren’t independent of one another. They are closely knit. When teams collaborate on different aspects, it opens up their perspective about different things. It also gives them a sneak peek into things they would have overlooked otherwise. Here are some of the top strategies that organisational leaders can try for their firms to foster such an environment:

  • Regular training sessions:

    From technical skills to non-technical soft skills, there is no shortage of topics that organisations can use to conduct training sessions. They can use issues relevant to the industries or roles. Conducting regular training sessions allows the employees to practice constant learning. When they participate in these sessions with colleagues, they also get a chance to learn how they can benefit from collaborating with another fellow. 
  • Cross-functional projects:

    One of the topmost ways coaches aim to inculcate a culture of learning and collaboration is by encouraging employees to participate in cross-functional projects. No matter how small they are. It gives them new skills and perspectives. It also helps them build relationships across different levels of organisations. Coaching experience indicates that building long-lasting relationships in the workplace is one of the key reasons for employees’ loyalty.  Besides the collaborative approach,  it can help reduce the attrition rate. 
  • Recognition programs:

    Everybody wants to be recognised and rewarded. Many firms undermine the value of rewards and recognition programs. Most employees in an organization put in a lot of effort every day to ensure optimum business success. These programs can be formal, such as awards, or informal, like a shout-out in team meetings or social media. The goal here is to make them feel included and valued. The recognition does not necessarily need to come from leaders. Even team members can showcase their pride and appreciation. 
  • A robust review mechanism:

    Establishing development mechanisms can help organisations understand what is working and what isn’t. There is no such thing as a perfect organisation; there is always room for improvement. Regular surveys, suggestion boxes, and open forums can be useful tools for collecting employee feedback on collaboration and learning initiatives. However, organizational leaders mustn’t just collect the data. They should put it to good use so that employees feel heard. 

Overcoming challenges in implementing a collaborative culture and learning mindset:

Setting up a new culture, especially in the initial days isn’t easy. Organisational leaders must be careful not to come by as too micromanaging or too enforcing in their pursuit. Here are some ways to tackle the common challenges:

  • Resistance to change:

    This is one of the most common problems organisational leaders face when building a culture. For example, for someone who has been an individual contributor for the past 5 years in their career, it can be difficult for them to suddenly become a team player. What is important here is to lend an ear to the problems that employees want to discuss. Leaders can address this by clearly communicating how the roles will change, how this change benefits the employees, and how it will provide them with the support needed to make the transition successful. Coaching is one of the best ways to ensure that they embrace change. Coaches have unique techniques and methodologies that make this process easy. 
  • Striking a balance between collaboration and individual work:

    When implementing a new culture, it is essential to acknowledge how each role works in the organisation and how it can impact them. While collaboration is essential, respecting the need for individual work time is also essential. Many leaders confuse collaboration with meetings. That is not what it is about at all. When organisational leaders and team members undergo coaching, they can find the difference between them. Leaders could also help employees find the balance. One of the ways to go about this is by setting a specific period for collaborative activities and allowing uninterrupted individual work periods.
  • Ensuring inclusivity:

    The right kind of collaboration begins with being inclusive. There is an unconscious bias in most of our minds. To ensure that a business is successful, it is essential to ensure all voices are heard. A workplace should be inclusive in the true sense of its terms. Inclusivity isn’t just limited to committing to diversity hiring. It also means that leaders should keep an open mind and penalise employees for discriminating against people of other races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, etc. A workspace shouldn’t be a place where bullies are promoted. 

How to measure success?

Implementing the strategies to ensure a learning and collaborative mindset is just one part of it. But how do we ensure the methods we adopt work for the organisation? It is essential to acknowledge that things work differently for different firms. But here are some standard metrics leaders can use to measure the success:

  • Employee engagement surveys:

    Let us be honest here. Most employees do not want to participate in employee engagement surveys, and this happens mainly because they do not feel connected to the organization. Conducting employee engagement surveys will help get a clear picture of whether the employees feel connected to the organisation’s vision. It will also help gain insights into how employees feel about the collaborative and learning culture. These results will help spot areas of improvement. 
  • Performance metrics:

    When fostering a culture of learning and collaboration, make sure to use performance metrics to analyze how frequently and to what degree people have been using the new lessons in their daily lives. Some of these aspects include the number of cross-functional projects completed or the number of training programs completed in a quarter. Such metrics can help gauge the success of these initiatives.
  • Feedback and testimonials:

    Employees might not directly express their unhappiness because they fear job loss. However, collecting qualitative feedback and testimonials from employees can provide a deeper understanding of the impact of these initiatives on workplace culture. Making these anonymous is the best way to ensure leaders get candid answers. 

Coaching plays a significant role in inculcating a culture of learning and collaboration. If you want to discuss collaboration further, write to us at dinkar@kabirlearning.com.

Leave a Reply