Business leaders often cite a lack of collaboration in the workplace as one of key challenges they hope to address. It’s a reasonable goal, because companies that incorporate greater coordination often see better results.
While it’s easy to talk about improving collaboration or putting it on a list of important company-wide objectives, making it happen requires a concrete plan and a clear understanding of current employee workflows. When organizations dig deep and try to uncover the reasons why collaboration has not taken hold, they often find that it relates to the technology being used, the structure of the organization, and how information sharing is prioritized.
Let’s take a more detailed look at three of the reasons why workplaces struggle with collaboration and what can be done to overcome them.
Getting the Right Tools for Your Business Needs
Choosing the right technology can mean the difference between increased collaboration and wasted money. Businesses need to choose a collaboration tool that fits well within their organization culture and serves their specific technical needs.
A company spread out throughout the world may need videoconferencing as a native part of a collaboration platform. On the other hand, a company that relies heavily on creative applications would want collaboration tools that integrate with them. In looking for ways to boost collaboration, tools like Slack, Asana, Spark, and Trello are frequently mentioned. It’s essential to choose the tool or tools that best align with your core needs.
It’s important to look at the ways that your company is not collaborating. This could include everything from problems with project management to duplicative work being done by different departments. Make sure you understand the specific collaboration problems that need to be solved and understand how each tool might help. Try to solve as many problems as possible with your choice of applications, instead of picking the options with the most bells and whistles.
Fostering Effective Use of Tools to Increase Collaboration
A common problem holding back collaboration is lack of engagement with the chosen tools. As part of a rollout of a new collaborative application – or a re-prioritization of an existing one – it’s essential to have a plan to ensure meaningful use. If you fail to plan for user adoption, the tool may just sit there unused and the increases in collaboration may never be achieved.
To lay the path for effective use, organizations must invest time in training. Other prudent steps include getting managers on board and cultivating power users, as both can expound the benefits of the tools and get their colleagues on board. As part of the implementation process, it’s also important for collaboration to be well integrated with existing applications and collaborative processes. If an entirely new tool and process are being implemented, organizations should ensure all employees understand how old processes translate, in order to avoid a potential backlash to the change.
Many organizations find it helpful to rely on professionals to help with the process. Although VPs and directors know their organization’s unique needs, they may not always know the best practices for increasing user adoption.
That’s where ShoreGroup’s user adoption services come in. We partner with Cisco to help guide organizations toward a successful rollout of collaboration tools like Cisco Spark. We also understand the common pitfalls that organizations trying to boost collaboration have trouble with.
Avoiding Silos by Supporting a Culture of Sharing
A major deterrent to effective collaboration is an entrenched company culture that is so siloed that it prevents departments from working together. In extreme cases, members of the same team may even be walled off from each other.
To avoid this, businesses should ensure their culture supports and encourages breaking down any such impediments to collaboration. This can be done through messaging, inter-departmental working groups, and even incentivizing those who avoid their siloes.
One constant deterrent is that many employees guard their turf, worrying that relinquishing any control will lessen their value to the organization as a whole. It’s important for leaders at a business to push back against this mindset. More creative solutions to key problems often stem from employees with different specialized knowledge working together. When they fail to connect, innovative solutions don’t happen.
A culture of inclusiveness and of sharing can help set an organization on the path to greater collaboration; inter- and intradepartmental transparency is also valuable to the process. As more information flows from leadership on down, employees begin to feel more connected to the company. It creates an environment where sharing and collaboration feels like the natural way of doing things.
Real Collaboration Is Within Reach
Improving collaboration starts with identifying areas of improvement within your organization. Typically, finding the right set of tools or getting more effective use out of current ones is a good starting point. This technology should be aligned with your organization’s priorities, not chosen because it’s what everyone else is using. From this point, by prioritizing user adoption, bringing in outside resources to ensure effective leveraging of these tools, and forging a more collaborative culture, businesses can help make greater collaboration – and the benefits it yields – a reality.
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