How to Build a Company Culture of Collaboration

puzzle pieces show how to build a company culture of collaboration

Why Build A Company Culture of Collaboration
A company culture of collaboration sounds nice, but what can it do for you and your business?

The Problem
Our clients tell us they are experiencing a greater level of ambiguity and intricacy than ever before. Business leaders say this means bigger goals, increased complexity and tighter budgets.  Employees tell us this means higher expectations, an increased pace of change and the need to do more with less.

Where can you get the leverage to keep up with today’s heightened business challenges so you can stay afloat much less thrive?

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 strategy.

And Why Would You Care?
From a collaboration perspective, a recent study by at Babson College found that companies that promoted collaborative ways of working were 5 times as likely to be high performing.  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 growth companies.

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 effecting real cultural change across the board.

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 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. What are the concrete first steps that you need to take on the path to success?  How does a more collaborative culture play out in the day-to-day business and within the overall corporate strategy? What specific behaviors will need to change?  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 strategic success.

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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