For many managers in business, fostering a collaborative mindset among employees is challenging.
If these managers have been with your organization a long time, chances are they began their careers in an era where competition was encouraged and a “me first” attitude was an asset to getting ahead.
There was respect for the rugged individual who just went off on his or her own and did something brilliant. It was considered the normal that creative departments warred with production departments, and sales departments fought with production departments. In fact, it was considered healthy, as if the business would benefit with a bit of dissension in the ranks.
But that was then, before the information age dawned and the way we work changed forever. Today collaborative workforces are more productive, less apt to overlook solutions or problems, and more aware of the bigger picture that pulls the whole company together.
How can managers be encouraged to help their employees adopt a collaborative mindset?
Here are 3 strategies that can help create the workplace attitudes that are needed to survive in these different times.
Strategy #1: Use information age tools to solve information age challenges. At the root of creating collaborative mindset among your workers is ensuring that it is clear from the beginning that praise is not for individual efforts. Rather it is for excellence in team work. That is hard to foster if you do not consistently revert to teamwork and consensus practices when challenges arise.
For example, suppose your team is looking into implementing a new process that the manager already knows is being done in the company’s office in another country. Use VoiceThread to have an impromptu meeting. Ask the other team what surprised them about implementation of the project, what they wished they had known before they started, and what they did that worked really well.
Strategy #2: Prove opportunities for your staff to connect with each other beyond the normal boundaries of their departments and specific teams. Take issues that seem to be top of mind and consider how fresh insight could help. Then set up a virtual tour to a workplace with a similar issue or contact an expert and instead of asking for a consulting session or seminar, ask if you can stage a 1-hour question and answer session with your team.
Make full use of apps like BoostHQ so your team get be able to collaborate and get feedback effectively. Many experts are willing to take an hourly fee to share what they know in an easy format such as a question and answer.
Strategy #3: Use small prompts to encourage the collaborative mindset. In chatting with an individual worker, for example, if they ask a really good question or wonder about what would happen if an innovative step was taken, respond by telling them it is a good question and suggest it be taken to team to see what others think. Reach out to people picked spontaneously in other departments as well as traditional team members. Explore the question from the fresh perspective.
Give your team members a chance to mingle not only with people from other departments but with other people in the community. For example, a call to a local learning facility would likely make it possible for some of your team to meet with fourth-year students who are currently studying the issue they are thinking about. Why not take the feedback to another dimension?
Set up a kindness collaboration, where people are encouraged for one day every month to do some kind act for a co-worker with whom they would not normally mingle.
All of these small acts can encourage a sense of collaboration and team-work. Taken individually, they seem like a shot in the dark, but taken collectively, they soon add up to a company with a strong collaborative mindset.