Why Real Collaboration is More Necessary Than Ever
A lack of collaboration can result in project delays and derailments, infighting and blame-placing, stress, and other forms of unpleasantness. Toxic work cultures usually suffer from a lack of teamwork and collaboration.
“I’d like you to collaborate,” declares the leader. Teamwork and collaboration appear in company missions and come up during your job interview. And, on the surface, they are noble goals. But why is true collaboration often important to achieve? The Cambridge Dictionary defines collaboration as:
“The situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.”
That sounds pretty simple, right? But first, what is a “situation” today? It might be a complex project or marketing event involving hundreds of people across multiple geographies and time zones, with different agendas and reporting structures. Many companies today engage a combination of employees and independent contractors. The team today is not the team of years ago. And what is the “same thing” they are trying to achieve? If the objective isn’t clearly defined and understood by those “two or more people” chaos ensues.
The Importance of Collaboration in Today’s Business
In our fast-paced, tech-centric world, no one person possesses all the skills and knowledge to make a project happen. For example, product launches involve collaboration across marketing, engineering, sales, and even human resources functions. Marketing may include advertising, PR, digital marketing, events, and social media. If each person has a different definition of the “same thing” and skill levels vary across the team, real collaboration becomes even harder.
A real collaborative effort also requires the team members to respect one another, despite differences in work styles and demographics.
So, How Do You Achieve Real Collaboration?
The first step is to ensure that the company or project goals, missions, and KPIs are clear to every member of the team. Equally important is defining the skill set and team members who are best equipped to deliver against those goals. The leader must not just talk about collaboration, but live it every day, shutting down toxic behaviors and acting as a mediator if necessary to resolve conflict.
Communication is essential and people need to feel they work in an environment where they can speak up about issues without fearing for their jobs.
Last, but perhaps most important, is utilizing technologies and platforms that facilitate collaboration. All too often, companies dictate what types of reporting and communication systems their employees must use, without allowing any wiggle room for input or decision-making.
The best collaborative platforms are those that allow the team itself to collaborate on the system they’ll be using for scheduling, chatting, storing assets, and reporting on results. We’ve developed a platform called SmartSuite that gives collaborators the power to decide HOW they will collaborate. With customizable features and views, the platform encourages the work team to agree on how they’ll achieve “the same thing” in the way that works best with individual needs and learning styles. That, in turn, saves time and resources spent looking for information, arguing about which version of the schedule is the latest one, and checking in on project status. And then, true collaboration can really begin!