How To Foster Inter-Organizational Collaboration

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By Emma Grace Brown

Companies in which collaboration is encouraged often have greater degrees of productivity, increased employee morale, and decreased attrition. It takes an intentional effort to ensure collaboration is a focal point of your operations and a central component of your corporate culture. Idea Pathway, LLC can help you develop organizational strategies that will have positive outcomes for your whole team.

Establish Protocols

Companies and employees thrive on utilizing best practices and protocols, particularly with regard to regularly performed organizational functions. This typically starts with creating a business and marketing strategy, an employee handbook, and an organizational chart that helps everybody understand the internal mechanisms of how the organization works. Detailed job descriptions, chains of command, and project management software that allows everyone to stay on the same page can help improve efficiency while also fostering opportunities for collaboration. Use caution that procedures are indeed helpful rather than onerous to foster teamwork.

Look For Crossover

Often, there is a degree of crossover between various departments and functions in an organization. For example, an accounting division will have some overlap with operations, and a communications division will have some projects that bleed over into marketing, advertising, and public relations. The key is in finding commonalities and looking for common ground where different individuals and departments can work with one another toward achieving common goals and objectives. Not only does this improve efficiency, it also allows for greater degrees of brainstorming and sharing of resources.

Invest In Technology

There are a number of different technology tools including software and programs and platforms that break down silos and help encourage and facilitate collaboration. For example, a project management tool like Wrike allows individuals to establish a project and invite others to collaborate with specific direction and tracking progress in place. Regular staff meetings with agenda items from each division can also help promote shared co-working opportunities. Build unique teams for unique projects, no matter where they reside. Find ways to connect people who work in different geographical areas by utilizing technology like streamed meetings, Zoom calls, and Team chats.

Utilize Collaboration Apps

Some applications can make it much easier to collaborate, particularly when using a project roadmap for your team when it works together to launch new products. This can help you outline your strategy, as well as determine how to keep product development on track. It also details the tasks of each team member involved in getting the project to market. A template makes it easy to prioritize tasks, set deadlines, and understand pain points and shared business goals. This approach allows everyone to work from the same set of data and information, which helps not only to foster collaboration but reduces the potential for confusion and error.

Brainstorm Often

According to Asana, brainstorming is a wonderful way to bring together people from different divisions and work toward a common goal. This can be done for large-scale projects such as planning a campaign or strategy or a new product launch. It can also be helpful for strategizing overall business objectives and project planning. Brainstorming brings new perspectives to the table, particularly when you involve different individuals from different departments. Cross-departmental teams and project groups can also help facilitate these efforts.

Encourage Feedback

Collaboration works well when everybody has an opportunity to provide feedback on how joint projects are working. If it’s something that you’re introducing as new to your business, it may take a bit of trial and error, in which case honest evaluations are important to finding the right formula. Creating a culture of innovation and open communication and idea-sharing can also help create an environment where people are encouraged and comfortable bringing forward new ideas and strategies. It also builds team cohesion and engages employees on a new level.

Reward Collaboration

When teams effectively work together toward common goals that benefit the organization as a whole, reward the efforts. According to Forbes, hold up top performance as an example of exceptional teamwork, allow key staffers to take on leadership roles, and demonstrate how the collaboration had positive outcomes. Tout the positivity that comes with working across disciplines and departments, which might include information and resource sharing, developing new skills, and providing better client and customer service. When people see the connection to success, they’re much more likely to engage.

Encourage Stepping Out Of Comfort Zones

Your staffers can grow professionally when they collaborate in such a way that they step outside their comfort zones. This is a good way to test waters in a safe environment, especially if you let them know perfection isn’t expected, just a willingness to try something new and trust their instincts. When you have cross-collaboration, people have a better understanding of what their colleagues experience in their roles, which facilitates better overall relationships. It also makes employees more invested in your company, and they understand operations beyond the scope of their particular job description. This can increase employee morale, reduce attrition, and encourage individuals to stay and grow within your company.

Allow For Cross Training And Mentoring

Allow employees to cross-train or observe other departments in your organization as a way to learn more about how the company works as a whole. Mentoring, job shadowing, and professional development can create an environment in which collaboration is encouraged and rewarded. In fact, mentored employees tend to stay with a company long term, seek out leadership roles, and become mentors themselves. Ask staffers what they need to to create win-win strategies in the organization and set agendas that allow people to collectively work toward those goals.

When an entire team in a company works together like a well-oiled machine, the result is greater productivity, advanced assimilation, more efficiency, and higher quality work. It’s also a great way to identify new leaders and to ensure you’re not overlooking key factors when you’re working on a project that touches other divisions of your organization.

Idea Pathway, LLC is a source of educational content and information about key leadership and management challenges in today’s complex and turbulent operating environments. Visit the site today to learn more and reach out for a consultation.