Collaborate. How many times do you hear that a day? Everybody, from the smallest of startups to the largest of corporations, has talked about collaboration.
Why is collaboration so important? And how can you build a collaborative culture at your startup?
Let’s start at the beginning.
Why is Collaboration Important?
Collaboration has become a cornerstone of the modern enterprise. Organizations have embraced the concept of accomplishing more together — whether it’s cross-team or cross-department collaboration, it’s the secret to doing more. There is a proverb, often attributed to an unnamed African country, but more likely made up by motivational speakers or politicians. Nevertheless, I like the sentiment. It goes like this: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
Let’s say you’re designing a mobile app and have some of the know-how. The product is coming along nicely, but you hit a roadblock. A protocol or other user experience issue needs additional input.
You could slog through the hiccup on your own. But will that get you “far”?
Working together can also improve work quality. Two people working together inevitably leads to some kind of conflict but you know what, that’s a good thing. Conflict leads to better solutions.
Plus, you become motivation for each other. It’s like having a workout partner who inspires you to push a little harder at the gym. They know you can push past the resistance. They encourage you to give a little more, and, amazingly enough, you do.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
Building a Culture of Collaboration
Collaboration doesn’t happen by accident. It requires time, effort and ongoing maintenance. To get started building a collaborative culture at your startup, follow this roadmap.
Define and develop a shared purpose. Think of this as vision casting. Startups develop from their leaders and founders. But if you want the startup to grow beyond yourself, think about purpose, mission, and values.
- Why this startup and not a different one?
- Why this problem and proposed solution?
- What drives you when you’re tired and want to give up?
The answers to those questions define the business. They make you stand out from the competition, and they give employees, even if it’s only prospects at this point, something to hold onto and champion.
- How would they like to see internal communication change?
- What is their definition of the company and its mission, purpose and values?
- How would they work together?
- What rewards would excite them?
Besides getting great feedback about how you’re doing as a leader, you’ll also get some employees who will lead the collaboration charge. They’ll communicate company values as peers, even as executives share them from the top-down.
Welcome outside ideas. Sometimes, the answer to a problem is glaringly obvious to someone who isn’t working on it day-in and day-out. So involve everybody. Ask the marketer or HR person what they see. It could be something you don’t or can’t see because you’ve been looking at the problem for too long. It’s like proofreading your work — at some point, you become so numb to it that typos slip right by you.
Set up processes that enable and empower people to work together. Company-wide emails are not how to operate a business in today’s world. Does anyone really want to be held hostage by a “reply all” chain? Implement more flexible processes by finding the right tools for your team.
Create an infrastructure that values and rewards collaboration. People sometimes need encouragement to embrace collaboration. Workers across all generations — from Baby Boomers to Millennials — need help and training when new ways of working are introduced to the team. No one gets collaboration right off the bat, so implement processes and rewards like cross-departmental teams, company-wide happy hours and monthly shared meals.
Leverage employees’ unique talents. As people work together, untapped talents will begin to emerge. Foster them. Equip employees with the tools and training they need to see their talents come to life, not only for the company’s benefit but also for theirs. Few things are better than seeing people come into undiscovered talents and owning them.
Get to know each other. It’s important that people know how their coworkers operate. Have your employees create a basic personality profile in your social collaboration tool. People should share their interests and what makes them unique, as well as how they like to work.
Creating a great culture at your startup, especially one built on collaboration, is critical for a company designed to deliver innovation. Following this nine-step roadmap will get you on the right track to working together — and getting more done.
Are you a CRM product manager thinking about how you can help your users be more collaborative in your app? Download our E-Book to understand why, and how, you should be thinking about collaboration and productivity within the context of CRMs.