A collaborative culture is a necessity for business success. While this may seem obvious you’d be surprised (or maybe not) that some companies allow or encourage behavior intentionally or not that decreased collaboration between team members. 

That said, collaboration can mean many things to different people depending on the context. When I discuss collaboration I mean open minded team members who focus on achieving company goals above their personal ambition or agenda and allow team members to submit ideas and have patience in growing team member skills. Encouraged discussion and focus on effectiveness with people in a friendly and encouraging way rather than leveraging cohesive or punitive approaches to get team members to complete work tasks. 

How do you encourage collaboration within your organization if you are a manager or a business owner? 

The first step is to create a culture where openness about mistakes and how to learn from them are accepted and encouraged. That said, this doesn’t mean that making the same mistakes over and over again are acceptable which is where management must step in to support the change. However, you want to prevent mistakes being covered up and possibly never uncovered or solved. 

Next, set team goals and incentivize based on the achievement of those goals. Here, your goal is to focus team members on the team succeeding instead of themselves as individuals succeeding. 

Another measure is to develop a mentor program where the mentor is incentivized based on their mentee meeting their goals. That way training and coaching are encouraged. 

All of these approaches don’t work though unless you as a leader do not adopt a collaborative mindset. Seek first to understand instead of being understood. This means listening more than speaking and demonstrate empathy. Don’t make prescriptions without fully understanding the problem. Avoid using platitudes and making generalizations. Make specific recommendations to problems that are contextualized to scenario. When you adopt this mindset and lead by example then your team members will be more likely to do the same. Then, when you introduce organization and policy measures they should further solidify your collaborative culture. 

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