Humanizing Workplace Culture Part III: Collaborative Work Environments Builds Stronger Teams, Successful Organizations


“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too), those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” — Charles Darwin

In Part I and II of this series, we examined how investing in an organizations’ people and their talent development greatly impacts employee engagement, retention, motivation, performance and overall happiness at work. Open and transparent work cultures provide opportunities for sharing information, recognition and feedback. Another important way to humanize workplace culture is to build a collaborative work environment. It strengthens teams and helps people become more connected, productive and creative in their work. Empowering the people who work in organizations, only makes everyone stronger and successful.

As human beings, we have the natural ability to bond through shared feelings. This is what Gillburg Leadership refers to as “Greenline Behavior.” “Greenline” experiences are interactive, communal, compassionate and supportive. They tend to occur in groups that set aside time for: meaningful dialog about values; sharing interests and passions; naming the ground truth; honoring losses; and celebrating successes.

This ability to bond is important for the world of business. Without the capacity to relate to one another, collaboration wouldn’t occur.

A collaborative culture is a must-have ingredient in thriving companies. Having teams that are stronger and more connected is one of the best things you could ask for as a manager.  In some cases collaboration happens organically, but other times, it requires motivated leaders to take action. There are many ways to foster collaboration and creative teamwork habits.

Importance of clear communication & getting to know your team

An important first step is to clearly communicate expectations, team-building goals, and individual roles. This helps team members stay on the same page, knowing what they have to do and when they need to have it done. Where convenient, be sure to introduce and use tech tools/programs to track goal progression.

Next, learn about each team members’ strengths and cultivate those strengths. Positioning each team member for success will be rewarding for the individuals and the overall organization. According to data from various Gallup reports, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. These employees are more productive and profitable. Play to their strengths, managers!

Collaboration is difficult when team members aren’t aware of how others work, so it’s very important that you encourage employees to get to know each other better, too. In 6 Ways to Foster Collaboration in Your Workplace Andrew Field shares, “It is worth the effort to have each member complete a simple personality profile. Share the results and openly discuss likes and dislikes with regard to communication, tasks and personal focus.”

Foster productive work environments that recognize team effort and jobs well done

Teams are the outcome of the collaboration of individuals working towards the same goals. Thus making it important to find the right talent. Bill Fleig (VP of Client Services, JUXT) makes a great point about teamwork and collaboration: “You need to find the best talent for your team, regardless of the discipline. But, if your company is full of amazing talent that can’t collaborate and partner then you won’t be capable of creating great work. Chemistry and talent in equal parts… Always hire with this in mind.”

Creating a productive work environment encourages teamwork and collaboration.  Peter Economy, in his piece in Inc., provides some useful advice: “A workplace that is trusting, open and fun will be the most productive and successful. Be open to new ideas and suggestions that come from your employees, and show them that their voices are being heard.” Other suggestions to cultivate collaboration include fostering a creative atmosphere (flexible work areas and office spaces), being transparent, holding effective team meetings, and taking the time to recognize employees and teams for jobs well done. Perhaps you can take a “note” from former CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Doug Conant, and send handwritten notes to your employees. That little effort will go a long way!

There are many positive outcomes of collaboration in the workplace. Cisco reports that nearly 50 percent of an employee’s impact on business unit profitability comes from the ability to help others and be helped by others. A 2012 IBM CEO Study showed about 63 percent of CEOs believe that a collaborative environment draws out the best from their staff.

Values which are important to your employees will propel your organization’s success

What it boils down to is, as human beings, we want to feel connected to each other and the cause(s) we work so hard for. Collaboration is an important vehicle that helps us to connect minds and talent. It is critical for leaders at organizations to invest and build strong teams by cultivating productive work cultures, getting to know their team’s strengths and motivating their employees with positive feedback.

Investing in values like openness and transparency, your talent’s professional growth, and in your team’s productivity through collaboration, will not only make each individual stronger and more engaged, but will propel your organization to great success!

Let us know what you thought of our 3 part series and what you have done at your organizations to instill values which humanize workplace culture in the comments section below.

-Lolly Fitzpatrick

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