Recently I had a conference call with a client who stated that they had a culture that has a spirit of collaboration but that their teams struggled with the behaviors of collaboration.
What’s the difference? Organizations have many cultural norms. These are unique identifiers for the organization that are unspoken and permeate throughout the culture. For example Apple has a culture of driving forward to innovate. Uber had a culture of not honouring diversity. Disney has a culture of fun and ongoing learning.
Highly collaborative teams can be a cultural norm as a concept or spoken term but if its not in practice it is not driving results.
Here’s how you know that both the cultural norm of team collaboration and the individual behaviors of collaboration are in sync:
- Individuals on a team are focused on getting input from multiple perspectives such as other team members in the department, getting input from other departments such as legal, HR, IT and ensuring that all perspectives have been factored into any solutions brought forward.
- Team leaders of every department communicates and together act as a master mind group and regularly share updates on what is happening within his or her own team. In practice this means that every team leader sees interacting with team leads in other areas as a top priority. Weekly meetings with an agenda that includes issues, ideas or projects being worked on with the team.
- Team leaders bring back information gained through the ‘department team lead’ master mind meetings to his or her team and shares highlights of whats going on in other departments, provides opportunity for input into solutions for other teams and departments. Focus is on ‘sharing ideas and solutions’ across all departments not just within the team.
- Collaboration is rewarded and is measured in performance evaluation. If collaboration does not have a major weighting in a performance review then it will not get the attention it deserves as a skill and as a behaviour. When teams and groups create superior results there is celebration, they are used as a case study and act as change leaders for the rest of the company.
High performing teams obviously collaborate with each other – the next level of collaboration is ‘no more silos’ which means all departments are consistently collaborating. Think of how much more innovative and productive organizations can be overall if the teams are truly working together. Marketing invites a team member from legal so that they can know about any legal items up front or legal brings in a marketing team member for perspective before setting a policy.
The speed of change means less time for going back to the drawing board – the more teams collaborate the greater the agility and ability to adapt quickly.