How to Build a Company Culture of Collaboration

How to Build a Company Culture of Collaboration
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Why Build A Company Culture of Collaboration

A company culture of collaboration sounds nice, but what can it do for you and your business?  Here’s what change management consulting experts have to say:

The Problem
First, customers today expect to see a single face from companies.  Second, organizations are experiencing a greater level of strategic ambiguity and complexity than ever before. Business leaders say this means bigger goals and tighter budgets.  Lastly, employees tell us this means higher expectations, an increased pace of change, and the need to do more with less.

To make matters worse, many leadership teams do not truly think or act as a team with interdependent and common goals. Instead, each executive often runs their own fiefdom without much collective commitment to getting aligned around a coherent whole.  This silo-based mentality is often caused by an underlying lack of the clarity, trust, desire, or processes required to work effectively cross functionally.

A lack of collaboration typically shows up as highly fragmented and zealously guarded turf, processes, relationships, and information.   This creates functions and roles designed around parochial requirements and creates unwarranted duplication, complexity, and politics.

This Creates an Opportunity
We believe that this disconnect creates an opportunity for higher performance.  Recent research by Accenture found that de-siloed teams are 28% more likely to achieve high growth targets.  If you want to lift performance, fully align your leadership, their teams, and your culture with your strategy to collectively achieve more together.

An Aligned Culture
For many organizations, the key to thriving is to build a company culture of collaboration — a way of doing things where employees work collaboratively across boundaries.  This may mean significantly transforming the way you do business.  In order to drive cross-functional initiatives forward, you may need to establish a culture of collaboration that will be better aligned with your strategic priorities.

Why Cultural Alignment and Collaboration Matter

  • From a collaboration perspective, a recent study by at Babson College found that companies that promoted collaborative ways of working were 5 times more likely to be high performing.  Yet, research by DDI found that only 48% of employees work across organizational boundaries to accomplish goals.
  • From a cultural perspective, Harvard Business School found that an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business.
  • Our own organizational alignment research found that workplace culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer retention, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

Changing Culture is About Changing Minds
The process is not easy.  It requires clarity of purpose combined with high levels of alignment, patience and perseverance.  And it needs to start at the top.

  1. Engage Senior Leadership
    How willing are top leaders to address and believe in the need for change? How committed and capable are they to change their own behaviors, success metrics, and reward systems to support cross-functional collaboration?

    This is the first step to truly effecting real cultural change across the board by agreeing upon strategic priorities that require cross-functional collaboration to achieve.

  2. Develop the Rationale
    You’ll need to assess not only the readiness of leaders to invest in the change but also to make sure they understand the motivation, vision, scope, and purpose of the initiative.

    — What will it accomplish and how critical is it to the future success of the enterprise
    — What major change resistance are you likely to face and from whom?

    You will know you are on the right path when all key stakeholders agree with the current situation, the problem you are trying to solve, and the implications of both success and failure.

  3. Get Specific
    Now it’s time to examine more closely what it will take to actually effect the desired changes. Assess your corporate culture to identify the concrete first steps that you need to take on the path to success and answer key questions like;

    — How does a more collaborative culture play out day-to-day?
    — What specific behaviors will need to change? (e.g., advocacy vs. inquiry, authority vs. influence, vertical vs. lateral thinking, aligned vs. competing interests, independent vs. interdependent thinking)
    — What is the game plan for cascading the change throughout the organization?

  4. Actively Engage Others
    Once senior leaders have understood, accepted, adopted, and internalized the desired changes enough to be on the same page, it is time to actively involve and engage the rest of the workforce. As with engaging leadership, the process will first require willingness, readiness, understanding, and commitment.

The Bottom Line
Before undertaking the challenge of culture change, leaders must believe in its necessity, the difficulties involved and the vision of success.  You need to believe that a culture of collaboration is critical to driving their teams towards common strategic goals.

To learn more about how to build a company culture of collaboration, download Changing Corporate Culture: 4 Do’s and 3 Don’ts

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