A company is its own entity and it should, for the most part, operate as such. There’s a reason why the government considers an LLC to be an individual. When we interact with a company, in many ways we’re experiencing an event that’s a direct product of their culture. Are they easy to communicate with? Are they kind? Do you feel that, through whatever medium, you experienced who the company is rather than the representative you dealt with?
When a company wears its values, work ethic, and qualities on its sleeve, this is often indicative of a collaborative work environment. Why? Because collaboration shifts the focus of individual success onto team success, whereupon everyone operates as part of a single organism; meaning, a coworker does not merely witness the success of another, they share it. It seems these days that under every rock there’s an interesting startup and with 90% of them statistically set to fail, everyone in the business should be talking about collaboration and company culture. After all, when the employees succeed, so too does the company.
Leadership, The Driver
Many venture capital firms will tell you that they’re not investing in an idea, or even a fantastic business plan, they’re investing in a person. They believe that despite the challenges bound to arise, this person can lead their company to success. The same idea applies for a collaborative work environment. The leader needs to unify those beneath them and this is often done, shockingly, with great leadership. If the philosophies, values, and morals of the executive leaders in the company are ones people are willing to follow, collaboration can develop naturally.
Reward Your Entire Team
Bonuses and personal rewards are fantastic. But, especially in sales-driven scenarios, they do beget competition. From a dynamic standpoint, that can be a massive divider between coworkers. One of the best ways to enforce collaboration is by setting team goals, rewards, and bonuses. In this situation the entire team is working towards a common outcome, something that ties them together during the process and in the reward thereafter. Surprise your team with the best laptop for a small business, a collective bonus, vacation, or whatever reward you deem appropriate. This will encourage collaboration and enforce the fact that these individuals, working together, are a collective.
When an employee is assigned a role yet feels bound to it without a voice, a feeling of isolation can ensue. By providing means of equal, flexible, and engaging communication, employees will belong to a unified identity. If their opinions, thoughts, or engagement can directly influence the nature of their company, as corny as it may sound they become one. Better yet, when employees are encouraged to collaboratively improve upon the company model, culture, or process, not only do they feel a higher sense of connection to the company itself but also to their colleagues.
By keeping your company organized, every employee will have a clear idea of their personal responsibilities. With clearly defined responsibilities, the team can avoid passing blame which goes against your company’s culture and environment. More so, it will allow those within their specific roles to take pride in contributing to the collective—being that they know exactly how their success, accomplishments, and strides in the workplace are influencing those around them. This practice also encourages realistic expectations.
Your Employees Should Be Innovators
It’s not only fostering communication, setting common goals, or expressing great leadership that encourages a collaborative environment; it’s also enforcing the idea that your employees, being a body in the larger body of the company, can innovate. Once they’re encouraged to not only influence company culture but the direction of the company itself, this creates a sense of purpose unparalleled within the work environment. No longer is it ‘help me support my ideas,’ it’s ‘help me create them.’ As Bill Gates said, “never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.” That very promise, within your company, can be the key to a collaborative work environment.