The driving force behind a collaborative culture is supportive leadership. Managers at all levels must lead by example and internalize the goal of becoming more innovative through collaboration. They must be willing and eager to hear ideas from group members throughout the organization. They must also hold employees accountable for implementing changes in their routines and adopting new collaborative procedures, tools, and strategies.
To achieve company-wide participation, leaders should focus on the principle, “What’s in it for me?” Everyone will realize that increasing collaboration not only strengthens the corporate culture, but benefits them as individuals.
As noted, collaboration requires an atmosphere of trust. Throughout the organization, it is important for people to listen to each other and respect ideas, even when they do not agree, and be willing to risk introducing outside-the-box ideas that may lead to genuinely innovative solutions.
Other culture-building steps include:
* Developing a system and a process for capturing new ideas, as well as the actions people take as a result of collaboration.
* Training people to function effectively in the new collaborative environment.
* Incorporating collaboration into performance reviews, making resources available for rewards and celebrations of success, and providing opportunities for peer recognition.
When people work effectively together, they can more easily handle sudden changes brought on by the global economy and embrace unexpected projects that require rapid implementation. It takes time and effort to build a collaborative culture, but gradually it will become instinctual. Sanker believes that everyone eventually understands that working through issues together enables the whole team–as well as the entire organization–to create value and realize success in their endeavors.
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