Importance of Collaboration In Workplace
What would you see if you took a birds-eye view of your organization? Do you see your managers stuck in their ivory towers? Are your employees working in silos that obstruct joint action among functions? Does information in your organization flow only vertically? What kind of interaction exists between different business units – is it merely cooperative in nature, or do you see active sharing of ideas?
Organizations can function at their most effective level when different business units collaborate by openly sharing information and communicating seamlessly. Where there is collaboration:
- The talent pool of skill and knowledge can be tapped across business functions, units and locations
- Information moves smoothly, lending transparency, simplicity and agility to business operations
- Businesses can become competitive, quick, efficient and more responsive to customers and changing markets
Quite often managers and employees secretly wish that they could borrow resources, knowledge and/or expertise from other business units. But what stops them from doing so? Maybe they are competing with each other, or it’s simply not the culture to share, or there might even be a lurking fear that sensitive information might leak outside.
A McKinsey Research Report points out that many organizations encourage cross-functional working without changing systems which aligns people’s interests and activities. The report recommends:
- Aligning your systems (goal setting, incentives, recognition and career development) to your strategy, i.e. if your people collaborate horizontally, you cannot measure and reward their performances vertically
- Developing standardized processes that cut horizontally across the organization to facilitate transparency of information in comparable formats
- Stretching goals such that no individual business unit/function can succeed standalone
- Making cross-functional teams accountable for performance
MYB believes that cross-functional collaboration is an uphill task and an ongoing process. Instead of planning a major overhaul of systems, start by taking small steps in the direction. One such step could be using rotation techniques to give managers an end-to-end view of business operations and breaking silos. You could also convene a working session with key people from all critical functions to find ways to share resources and align incentives.