by Matt Boltz
The second Principle of an Effective Workplace is Collaboration/Cooperation. I covered the first principle, Individualism, in the prior blog post. For a real-life example of how these two principles work together we can look at the offense of a football team. There are 11 players on offense and each one is responsible for their individual assignment. Through communication and practice these 11 individuals with 11 individual tasks work together to execute the play. The offense of a football team will not be successful if the individuals do not complete their job and if they do not collaborate and cooperate with each other.
To have an effective workplace you need to cultivate an environment that promotes collaboration. People and teams need to work together to determine the best way to complete tasks and set workplace policies. Too often organizations suffer from “smartest guy in the room syndrome.” This means you have people making decisions for others when they don’t have all the information, but they think they do. There is a reason our federal government doesn’t determine the timing of street lights in a given city. Most decisions are better left to the people doing the work.
The scope of collaboration needs to be companywide. Collaboration should occur within teams, between departments, and throughout all levels of your organizational structure. Organizations should also be open to collaborating with customers, vendors, and any other person/company that can provide value. Teamwork ensures execution of objectives, efficient processes, and the workload is balanced and being completed by the correct people. Individuals that are impacted should have the opportunity to contribute to decision-making and voice how the process will work from their perspective. This is the only way to gather all the necessary information, so the best decision can be made at the time. Employees will be more engaged and have higher levels of morale if they are collaborating and contributing to the overall direction of the company.
Does your organization have a system in place for people to submit ideas and work on the implementation of those ideas with the appropriate teams? Do you have a culture that promotes collaboration horizontally and vertically in your organizational hierarchy? Is there a communication system in place for customers and vendors to contribute and collaborate? When decisions are made with imperfect information the outcome is typically not a good one. Individuals collaborating with each other is crucial to developing and executing your strategy.