Derived of ‘co’ (together) and ‘labour’ (working), collaboration has been essential to human survival since the dawn of time. We literally have a biological predisposition to be collaborative; we are social beings and it’s in our nature to work together.
Whether it’s producing a movie, cooking a three-course meal or climbing Everest, the results are always better with an extra pair of hands. It’s not uncommon knowledge that working together is crucial to success. In fact, it’s so deeply rooted within the fabrics of human nature that many of us overlook the value of good collaboration. But large-scale operations simply cannot be successful without the involvement of a collaborative team along the way – whether you’re building a house or closing a deal with a high paying client. The fundamentals are the same. If there’s an objective, there’s an end goal and a plan to get there. And where there’s a business plan, there are people.
It’s a conversation that some businesses don’t have enough of, despite it being the key thread which runs through all aspects of operating a company. But just like everything in business, there’s a way of perfecting your methods of collaboration to suit your business as well as your employees. The most successful businesses are the ones which are operated by a good, solid team behind them. We outline, dissect, and evaluate the components of effective collaboration, to define how it can be optimised within your business.
The biggest box to tick off: thorough communication
We really can’t stress this enough! Not only is communication the foundation of effective collaboration, but it is the key to making anything work well in your business. You may think that internal communications between different departments are invisible to any third parties outside of the company. Of course, the content of these communications is invisible to the customer, but the results certainly aren’t. If you’ve got a team that communicates well with one another, then any customer communications will echo down the line. If the conversations between your employee and your customer are reported and distributed among the relevant members of the team, then you’re all on the same page. This will become obvious to the customer and glosses your company over as a well-functioning, organised and communicative group of people who all want the best possible experience for their customers.
Flip it around: have you ever been on the receiving end of ineffective or weak communication? If you’ve ever been a customer liaising with a company that you’re paying money to, you may have had to repeat yourself on several occasions if you’re liaising with different members of the team. It’s something that can get a little frustrating, especially if you’ve got to repeat yourself to a different employee, for a third or fourth time. The consequence of ineffective communication is damaging. collaboration appears weak, and you feel somewhat devalued as a customer.
If, however, your customer is dealt with via a team of collaborators who have exceptional internal communications, this will shine through.
Good, thorough internal communication can…
Help your customer to feel highly valued
Ensure all the team are aware of vital information which could affect or tweak their work
Avoid those awkward phone calls with customers who might find themselves having the same conversations twice or more
Keep your customer relationships smooth, clean and transparent
Be the factor which flips the switch between a one-time customer and a returning one
If your company is multi-departmental with growing employee numbers, it might be a good idea to implement a Customer Relationship Management system like HubSpot. This makes all communications completely transparent, so all your team are on the same page, making your customer relationships higher quality.
Play to strengths
Good collaboration starts with the identification and awareness of your employee's strengths. Once you’ve got a good idea of how your team members work and what they are particularly good at, you can tweak the ways in which they contribute to the operation.
We’ll use a common example which often occurs in the workplace. Employee A has an excellent and well-rounded skill set but doesn’t enjoy liaising with customers on calls. Employee B is more of an extrovert and has a professional and friendly manner on client calls. Of course, you’re going to encourage these two employees to collaborate with one another to tick the boxes of your objective: you’d use Employee A’s skills to produce high-quality work and make Employee B responsible for booking calls with the customer. The outcome is high quality, and the customer has a positive experience. Advantaging these skillsets and traits optimises the execution and produces a better-quality outcome.
It’s nice to be nice, and better workplace morale improves the quality of collaboration
Morale can be what makes or breaks a company. Low morale produces sloppy work and miscommunication. Good workplace morale encourages outstanding results, smooth communication, and happy customers who are going to return to your business. The chances are, if you’ve got a positive and respectful relationship within your team then you can more comfortably set the standards of quality higher.
If you prioritise the well-being of your staff and make your workplace a positive and inclusive space to be, your employees will respect you for it. With respect comes motivation, and improved morale. The benefits of this are really invaluable and can be the thing that pinpoints your team’s drive to produce better results every time.
Collaborative environments make it easy to ask for help
We all know that asking for help is the smarter option than suffering in silence. So an inclusive team morale banishes the, all too familiar, intrusive thought of ‘what if I look stupid for not knowing?’
Advocating teamwork in your working environment prevents the perception that asking for help is a hindrance.
Instead, this collaborative environment will
Encourage questions and learning
Strengthen the quality of teamwork
Prioritise learning over the worry of looking silly
Avoid and prevent fatal mistakes
Inform and round your end results
By advocating collaboration, you’re creating an attractive company to potential employees
Bad communication, poor teamwork and negativity in the workplace can drag your company's name through the mud. And in a world where we are networking more than ever, people become aware of hiccups quickly – and it doesn’t always look good for prospective customers.
Therefore, by establishing your workplace as a collaborative environment to work in, you’re making your business an attractive company to work for. This means you’ll attract high-quality talent and high-quality people who will be the future face of your company.
This all seems great, but how does this affect growth?
All the benefits of collaboration have one thing in common – they all lead to satisfied customers and an improved brand reputation.
There’s a cyclical nature here. Communication, utilising strengths, and improved morale all lead to a well-functioning business with returning, loyal customers, and an outstanding brand reputation. This can only help your business grow and direct it forwards to secure a positive and exciting future.