- We know that collaboration is important, but how do you encourage your team to work together?
- Cassy Aite, CEO at Hoppier, offers some strategies to help you create a culture of collaboration in the workplace.
- Among them, Cassy recommends setting up a mentorship system and rewarding employees with special perks.
By Cassy Aite, co-founder and CEO at Hoppier – a platform built for businesses to save time managing office orders for snacks, supplies, and more.
When you talk to industry leaders, you’ll often find patterns in the advice that they give. Be good to your employees, find gaps in the market, don’t sell too much equity early on, etc. One of the things that they most commonly agree on is the importance of collaboration.
As a matter of fact, it doesn’t take an industry leader to identify the benefits of working together. Even kids shows teach about teamwork and how it can make tasks a whole lot easier. But how do you culture culture in your workplace? (See what we did there?)
Shifting the behavior of humans is hard in all aspects since we’re a very stubborn species. That being said, there are some strategies that can help you create a culture of collaboration in the workplace. Let’s get right into it!
Setting up a company retreat is one of the first things that you can do to build that coveted culture of collaboration within your company. The fact that employees are more likely to work together on projects if they know each other well is a no-brainer.
While some coworkers will develop friendships on their own, organizing these company retreats can speed up the process and connect employees that may not have otherwise forged a connection.
If you’ve ever toured other offices then you probably noticed that the teams who get the most done are those who consider each other friends rather than coworkers. It might seem pricey to cover the retreat costs, but it’ll pay off in the long run.
More and more companies have begun implementing a mentorship system where they make employees who have been with the company for years take a new recruit under their wing. Right off the bat, this is a great idea since it makes the learning curve less steep for new hires.
Beyond that, however, it also increases the likelihood of collaboration since there’ll be more bonds forged between old and new employees. Whenever the rookie runs into an issue on a problem, the first thing they’ll do is email their mentor and ask to collaborate.
After a few years when that rookie becomes a veteran, it will be time for them to take on an apprentice of their own and repeat the mentoring process all over again. This beneficial cycle passes knowledge down from employee to employee and increases collaboration.
Team Collaboration Software
Using team collaboration software can also encourage your employees to collaborate more often. One of the main obstacles that keep people from collaborating is the fact that it can be a hassle if they don’t have the right tools to do so.
When you integrate an efficient collaboration platform into your company it will be far easier for your employees to work on projects together and they’ll thus be more likely to take that route. Various features such as real-time editing, task management, and calendars can really help.
The best part is that both of the options we mentioned above have free plans that should be more than enough for your needs. Even if you want to use some of the premium features, the paid plans are still reasonably priced.
The Right Leader
Many companies assign team leaders who are in charge of grouping employees whenever a large project comes around. This is a great way to get people working together since collaboration is essentially mandatory at this point.
However, if you don’t get the right leader, the collaboration won’t be nearly as effective as it could’ve been. This is why you should be very careful when choosing the person who’ll be taking the reins.
The right leader should define the desired end result, break the project up into actionable goals, and clearly communicate who is in charge of handling a particular task. Transparency and authority are the two qualities that you should be looking for.
Team Building Activities
Another hindrance on collaboration is lack of trust. Some employees think that their coworkers might screw a project up if they ask for help. The easiest way to remedy this is through team building activities. We’re all familiar with the usual trust falls, but let’s get more creative.
Escape rooms are an ideal choice for team building since they’re fun and also teach employees to solve problems together. Scavenger hunts that divide employees into small groups are another great option for building trust and putting coworkers into that collaborative mindset. Ultimately, team building activities are limited only by your imagination.
If you want to make the most out of collaboration in your company then you should get feedback from your employees on a monthly basis to see what they think of their various coworkers. You can then use this data to pair up the appropriate employees.
This will ensure that the employees you pair share the same goals and don’t dislike each other. It will also help you identify any problematic employees that are bringing the mood down. Of course, we’re not saying you should rely on hearsay.
However, if there are multiple complaints on the same employee then you should look into the situation and see if there’s any truth to it. As the old adage goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
You should have a database that compiles all the various skills of your employees so that you know who’s good at what. Then, whenever you’re assembling a team for a project, you’ll be able to easily put different employees together based on their expertise.
This will yield better results since each team will have all areas covered. The fact that everyone specializes in different domains also means that there’ll be less arguing over what approach to take with certain aspects of the project.
When building out this database, don’t focus solely on the role that the employee currently has within your company. Factor in the other skills that they listed in their resume as well as the experience that they have with previous employers.
Many employees know that collaborating with coworkers can lead to faster turnaround times and yield better results for the company — with the keyword here being “for the company.” There’s no practical incentive for employees to strive for the best outcome.
Rewards change that. While it’s not ideal to have to motivate employees with material prizes just to get them to do their best, it’s a necessary evil in many cases. Offering a free dinner at a fancy restaurant for the top five employees every month will help provide that incentive.
Furthermore, the best employees will also clump together when you announce these group prizes since they know that they can claim victory if they combine their skills. The amount you spend on these monthly prices is nothing compared to the results your team will deliver.
Bonus tip: leave a snack prize (such as a giant bag of chips) at the entrance of the office. It will serve as a mini-reward for employees who come to work early. This will reduce the frequency of late arrivals.
As you can see, collaboration in the workspace is both invaluable and relatively easy to achieve if you utilize the right strategies. All it takes is some creativity, planning, and the willingness to (financially) invest in the betterment of your workplace environment.
If you found the information in this article helpful then be sure to share it with a friend or two — particularly those that run their own teams — so that they can reap all the benefits of a collaborative culture. That’s all for now and happy working!
Cassy Aite is a life-long entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO at Hoppier – a platform built for businesses to save time managing office orders for snacks, supplies, and more.