Collaboration is important to the success of an organization, but as the saying goes: “it’s like getting rich or falling in love, you cannot simply will it to happen.” Collaboration takes practice. Collaboration is an outcome. And collaboration leverages the individual skills of every team member.
To create effective collaboration across your organization, you need to break down any departmental barriers to collaboration so that you can draw on the best people. You need to set clear objectives and define working relationships so that members can work as a cohesive team, and you must provide tools that support efficient collaboration.
Collaboration and team work create an environment that allows the collective knowledge, resources and skills of each team member to flourish. When people work together they can complete tasks faster by dividing the work to people of different abilities and knowledge. Collaboration can lead to better decisions, products, or services.
In my experience there are five essentials for effective collaboration:
1. Respect for People - Showing respect in the workplace is all about the relationship we develop with other people and how we value them.
2. Communication - Regular communication fosters collaborative interactions among leaders, stakeholders, and practitioners at all levels.
3. Consensus - Consensus means “general agreement” and having that as a goal encourages and focuses the participants. It also creates equity and ownership in whatever decision is made.
4. Responsibility and Accountability - Accountability is an agreement to be held to account for some result. Responsibility is a feeling of ownership. You can assign accountability between yourself and others, but responsibility can only be self-generated.
5. Trust - Trust people to do their best and trust them to do it right. Allow them to make mistakes without retribution.
Collaboration is a principle-based process of working together, which produces trust, integrity, and breakthrough results by building true consensus, ownership, and alignment in all aspects of the organization. Put another way, collaboration is the way people naturally want to work. It is a way of life that enables us to meet our fundamental needs for self-esteem and mutual respect in the workplace. This principle provides the basis for significant and permanent change – for people as well as for organizations.
Put simply, collaboration is the missing ingredient to transforming the way we work.