Leadership and collaboration have proven to be a keystone for building supportive, collaborative cultures within the workplace. This largely depends on how leaders facilitate their beliefs, values, and assumptions in the core of their organization. This also depends on how much the leader can allocate resources for the building of collaborative processes.
There are a great number of roles leaders play but here we will focus on three of them. These are the following:
- Building team identity
A team includes team members who use the social relationships they make in a team to get the work done.
Therefore, it’s the leader’s role to build a team’s self-image that reflects collaboration.
To improve this awareness, a leader can ask themselves the following questions:
- What metaphors, values and symbols guide how people interact with one another at the workplace?
- How can I get a better picture of the employee’s network and communication with each other?
- How do the employees think about their team’s and organization’s purpose?
- What role, if any, will power and politics play in this team and between this team and the larger organization?
Once aware of the team identity, a leader’s role is to think about what styles, behaviors, and technical tools will support creating the desired collaborative culture.
- Establishing collaboration coordinator
One of the key roles of a leader is to facilitate collaboration by making someone a collaboration coordinator. The coordinator can:
- Find different opportunities in the organisation where better collaboration would make a difference to the quality of products and services
- Use their ability to use a diversity of ideas and approaches to ferret out good collaboration practices and tools
- Help to clear the ideas and communication so that new collaborations can prove to be successful
- And help people to learn and adopt collaboration practices and tools.
It’s a tricky process to decide who should be this coordinator as the leader comes with their own biases.
Effective way leaders can take to improve this situation is by reducing the workload of employees that take this role and giving some kind of autonomy to them.
Furthermore, collaboration coordinator can take specific steps to improve collaboration at the workplace, such as:
- Identifying the areas where collaboration is weak within employees: This can be done with the help of data gathering techniques such as open ended group discussions and survey questionnaires such as collaborative culture questionnaire (CCQ).
- Building specific ideas and approaches to ensure collaborative culture: This includes coming up with specific group discussions that lead to as well as finding specific platforms that help to increase collaboration such as flowdock, slack, and gotomeetings.
- Identifying some collaborative supporters: The collaboration coordinator can not possibly do everything alone, so they need to gather a group of supporters to help and facilitate the changes.
- Implementing the techniques: Before implementing any technique, it’s crucial to seek advice from employees.
Hence, try to discuss them and make changes before implementing any major decision to improve collaboration.
- Remembering that it is a process: As collaborative culture is a never ending process within an organization, it does not end, hence, collaborative coordinators have to keep putting practices and techniques that get better after each evaluation and further help in building collaboration.
Leaders also determine how much resources they gave to the collaborative processes and coordinator. Hence, a good amount of resources can make all the difference.
3. Recruiting and promoting collaborative people:
In today’s world degrees and experience are not the only factors organizations consider before recruiting an employee. And leaders can build collaboration by recruiting learners and collaborators.
Two factors that must be considered before recruitment are “how do organization and recruiters measure ‘collaborativeness’?” and “what should be the right balance of encouraging individual employee and/or group behaviours?”
Bonus tip: As a “do not criticize” kind of brainstorming can lead to “groupthink” and can be counterproductive when it comes to collaboration, leaders and organizations should encourage debate within and between groups of employees while setting up healthy boundaries.
Leadership has proven to be a keystone for building and supporting a collaborative culture within the workplace. Building the team identity that supports collaboration, recruiting employees that have a predisposition to collaborate, appointing and allocating resources for collaboration coordinator.