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Tips for Fostering a Collaborative Company Culture

June, 29 by  |  Department Solutions, Information Management

Fostering a company culture that encourages collaboration and maximizes productivity is a constantly evolving challenge as new workforce trends continue to emerge and change in this age of rapid technological advancement.

Just a few of these challenges and trends include:

A “high turnover” culture

Gone are the days when your employees will stay with your company for decades at a time. A 2015 study by Mercer reports that voluntary staff turnover increased by 57% from 2014 to 2015, and this trend seems to be continuing. On average, your employees are likely to stay at your company only for about 4-5 years, and that number drops to only 2 years for millennials.

The rise of the “blended workforce”

A survey conducted by Workforce Trends reveals that 74% of companies are planning hire more freelancers in the coming years, and a third of companies expect to have more freelancers than regular staff by the year 2020. As Forbes points out, “With many freelancers working at remote offices, the ability to manage without borders is going to become a critical skill globally.”

Restructuring to focus on teams over individuals

In order to remain competitive, companies are progressively adopting team structures in order to maximize brainpower and effort in an increasingly competitive playing field.

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In light of these trends, developing highly-effective collaborative cultures is a strong focus for an increasing number of companies. Being able to quickly bring new staff and freelancers into a team environment requires thoughtful executive planning and well-developed collaborative tools to foster teamwork.

The Harvard Business Review has published an excellent article for companies seeking to maximize collaboration among their employees. After a thorough analysis of companies that have achieved best-in-class status in terms of collaboration, they have boiled the factors that lead to effective collaboration down to four major components:

Strong executive support

Effectively collaborative cultures tend to have executives that invest in building social relationships throughout the company, model collaborative behavior themselves, and create an environment where coaching and mentoring is integrated in an informal, continuous manor.

Effective HR practices

Companies that focus on hiring individuals who are both highly-qualified and demonstrate strong relationship skills tend to fair better when it comes to collaboration. Actively fostering this sense of community through social activities and events is also key to driving this sense of teamwork.

Relationship-oriented team leadership

Instead of only focusing on whether a leadership candidate can get the job done, companies with effective collaborative practices tend to appoint leaders who are both task- and relationship-oriented.

Optimally structured teams

When it comes to structuring teams, it is important to have a healthy mix of new and “seasoned” team members. This creates an environment where newer members can learn from those with more experience on a daily basis. It is also important to clearly define roles and tasks for each of the team members, but to leave the path to achieving the goal somewhat ambiguous. As the review states,

“Collaboration improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood—when individuals feel that they can do a significant portion of their work independently. Without such clarity, team members are likely to waste too much energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focus on the task. In addition, team members are more likely to want to collaborate if the path to achieving the team’s goal is left somewhat ambiguous. If a team perceives the task as one that requires creativity, where the approach is not yet well known or predefined, its members are more likely to invest time and energy in collaboration.”

In addition to thoughtful executive planning, having the right tools in order to collaborate effectively is also important. A survey conducted by AIIM revealed that the top two concerns for fostering collaboration within a company include the need for tools that foster mobility and that allow for effective search, discovery and collaboration on information.

This highlights the need for effective information management practices and software. Having the right tools and the right company culture can be a winning combination. To find out more about how information management can help you gain that collaborative competitive edge, please check out our article on the collaborative tools available in Therefore™.

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