Collaboration is the Name of the Game

What makes for good collaboration? What for bad? And do employees and companies share the same views on the topic?

Recently, Slack published an article related to a survey they conducted together with us.This study was meant to show the reasons for good and bad collaboration. It took place internationally, in 17 countries, and questioned nearly 7.000 company employees. We asked them about what they think makes for good/bad collaboration, what they value at work and how they perceive their companies’ values.

Before asking what makes for good collaboration, we thought it necessary to figure out what employees actually perceive as success and whether or not it differs from the company’s view. Three primary aspects became clear: successful companies focus on customers, invest in employees and are profitable. Now it might seem obvious that companies are perceived as successful when they are profitable, but employees also see what needs to be done to achieve that and point out that companies can only be profitable when they focus on customers and invest in employees.

Yet, what does it mean to invest in one’s employees?

It means that they are offered a certain degree of autonomy, presented with opportunities to improve their skill set, individual needs are taken care of, bureaucracy processes are minimized– and competitive salaries offered. Interestingly, these factors are prioritized differently depending on age. While younger employees valued social responsibility and brand recognition the most, older workers ranked investment in employees as the top attribute of a successful company. However, only when companies take sufficient care of their employees and make sure they have what they need to do their work confidently will they be able to foster good collaborations based on clear communication and responsibilities which lead to innovation, mutual trust and in the long run happier workers.

When it comes to what employees value at work, they felt that both they and the company value “efficiency” and “making money” the most. However, they also pointed out that autonomy and being part of a team were more important than for example being innovative which companies valued higher. Another highly regarded value proved to be the desire to master a skill or trade. But throughout a variety of industries and companies, autonomy still proved to be the highest regarded value – as people want to feel like they have a choice in how they do their everyday work. And yet, this is also the value that shows the biggest rating gap between employee and company perception.  While for employees it was the third highest priority, companies only saw it as the 11th. The study also disclosed which workers value autonomy the most, revealing that the desire for it increases with age. While employees between 18-24 value autonomy less in favor for innovation, 25-44 year-olds value it more and workers from age 45-65 value it the most.

This differing need for autonomy seems to be paralleled within the perception of good collaboration.

Once again, the study shows that the perception of collaboration has less to do with industry or company size, but rather with age. From the youngest to the oldest group they define essential factors for good collaboration as “trusting colleagues to do good work,” “clear responsibilities,” and “communicate with colleagues easily”.  Furthermore, there are integral connections between autonomy, collaboration and innovation. While autonomy is needed to fuel innovation, good collaboration with colleagues leads to more autonomous work being created and in return autonomous work initiatives often lead to meaningful interactions with colleagues. However, one needs to be aware of the dangers of working too autonomous as it might sabotage team work. In order for employees to work autonomously, yet in a team, they need all the information necessary to do their task, a goal that has been agreed upon and agency to move forward.

While it might sound easy to ensure good teamwork there are a variety of factors that actually hinder it, especially when international team members in locations allover the world are involved. People are different even within a single country let alone across the globe - be it personality differences, languages or cultural barriers. All of these have to be considered when companies want to establish good collaborations. In India and Brazil for example there is “too much” collaboration while the French listed “hierarchy” as their biggest collaboration challenge. These are seemingly small things that can be worked out easily, but before that can happen people have to become aware of and talk about them. In short, good collaboration is based on one major aspect: communication!

And that's not even the end...

We can conclude that autonomy and collaboration are essential for a company’s success as well as a satisfying work environment. The Slack article goes into greater detail and explores how challenges differ from small businesses to international companies and how managers might be able to improve team collaboration.

If you are interested to find out more click here to read the full article.

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