Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!” We live in a time where individualism is on the rise and hence, as a result, a little of our time and effort goes into teamwork or working together for a common goal. Enough research has been done to show that organisations with a higher degree of cohesiveness are resilient and agile; hence, sustainable. Given the backdrop of rising individualism across the globe, it is difficult to get the spirit of collaboration going in an organisation. Hence, we need to think about it and bring in the necessary interventions to promote collaboration.
Customer preferences have been changing rapidly; technological developments have been taking place faster than ever before; socio-economic changes are impacting employee expectations and behaviours; external environment of legal provisions and financial resources have been evolving fast too. As a result, to succeed in this dynamic world, a business must be agile and run fast.
In the course of day-to-day operations amidst a dynamic environment, a business is likely to face unforeseen challenges and unprecedented obstacles. Leaders at all levels and employees included have to deal with these and find solutions. They will succeed in some cases and fail in some, but they have to find solutions.
One of the ways to make the solution robust, they have to look at the evolving situation from diverse perspectives. This is possible only when the leaders come out of their silos to work together and lead their teams to work collaboratively within the team as well as outside the bounds of the team.
How do we collaborate?
A huge number of people live in nuclear families nowadays and most of these families are small. Thus, the need of sharing ideas, perspectives, troubles, pains, opportunities and happiness is very limited in our lives. We do not grow up with peers in our homes and local communities; our thoughts, ideas, demands and opinions do not get challenged; neither do we need to give in, share and accommodate. Hence, our skills of working together, empathising with others, listening to others, visualising a common goal and working towards it are very limited.
As we start working for an organisation, we are expected to know the goals of the team and work towards them; we have to work alongside our colleagues to give the final output that our organisation produces and delivers to its customers. Hence, we have to learn the skills of collaboration intently and actively. To excel at work, we have to take the initiative ourselves to understand the bigger picture, how we fit in that picture and how we can create a visible impact in the overall scheme of things.
Who drives the collaborative spirit?
Top leaders of an organisation need to have deep faith in the premise of collaboration. Only then, do the next steps flow naturally and sustain over time to yield results. A collaborative organisation engages its employees better and hence, its customers and partners. Thus, the success of collaboration is visible in the objective measurement of customer satisfaction and the NPS (net promoter score) of the stakeholders. The top management of an organisation has to see this and explain it to the rank and file.
Functional leaders take the spirit forward in operationalising it while they take decisions related to recruitment, rewards and recognition, stakeholder management, customer acquisition, service delivery, conflict resolution, design and development. Through each step of the process, employees start listening to the views, opinions and ideas of others, reach out to others proactively, communicate openly, engage with the organisation-wide goals, relate with the team-level goals and walk the extra mile to contribute towards their team goals and organisation-level goals.