In the year 1986, world-renowned Steve Jobs bought a small computer manufacturing company called Pixar. He decided to relocate their office in the year 2000. The original plan was to have separate offices for the Pixar executives, animators, and computer scientists. However, Jobs scrapped the idea immediately and instead planned the office as a single large space with a central atrium. He believed that collaboration between employees was at the core of the company’s functioning, and the newly designed office promoted that. Brad Bird, animator and director of Pixar movies such as The Incredibles, said "The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space. But Steve realised that when people run into each other and when they make eye contact, things happen.”
Effective Collaboration Is The Need Of The Hour
The importance of a shared approach not only becomes crucial in organisational settings but across settings, systems, and individuals. Collaboration means “to work with another person or group to achieve or do something”. One study published in Harvard Business Review found that the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 per cent or more over the last two decades. But there is more to collaboration than collaboration tools and exchange of information. While collaborating, it’s also essential to keep in mind that every organisation and every team is unique in its culture, people and process. For effective collaboration to take place, employees would feel heard, engaged and safe.
Why should you collaborate?
- Effective collaboration yields many benefits, both to the teams as well as the team members. Meetings tend to be efficient even when being held remotely. Employees also become more likely to feel a shared responsibility towards goals.
- With greater collaboration comes more significant innovation. With more diverse teams and varied departments, shared brainstorming can generate newer and better ideas.
- Stronger teams are built by understanding how the task can play to everyone’s strength. A collaborative approach to understanding team members creates a greater sense of purpose towards the team's larger goal.
- It is a given that working together will result in faster, vibrant, and better outcomes over one person working individually. This not only helps internally but ultimately leads to customer satisfaction.
Factors that aid in better collaboration
- Efficiency: While virtual meetings can sometimes feel long and ineffective, it is essential to set goals and create a plan that adds purpose to your work. Setting action items for everyone involved and ensuring smaller but engaging meetings can help one to collaborate efficiently.
- Trust: Collaboration comes with feedback, and constructive feedback comes with trust. When employees know that their leaders have their best interest at hand, they have more faith in their team and mission.
- Empathy: Goals and purpose become shared when everyone in the team feels understood. Being mindful of the challenges people face and their way of working is key to functioning well in a group. This is true, especially while working remotely.
- Clarity: Clear understanding of common goals and plan and personal priorities and individual goals is essential to bringing the two together. While collaborating, employees should not feel like their personal growth or goals are left unaddressed.
- Accountability: Each member should also be mindful of how their contributions impact or affect the group. This way, it can be easier to track progress and meet deadlines, which would benefit everyone.
While trying to achieve organisational goals and personal growth, communication, and active listening is of key importance. Whether you are creating a plan, changing a plan, changing an agenda or merging two ideas, communicate with your colleagues. Using the same platform while communicating with one another (in case of remote working) can help you save resources as well. Listening to team members’ ideas, advice or feedback and being respectful while responding also helps facilitate a better environment for collaboration.
The most important thing to remember is that you might not always be on the same page or agree with something; however, it is crucial to prioritise the larger goal. It is more about being able to cultivate collaborating behaviour than collaborating technologies or software. Since human interactions form the basis of every system we live in or interact in, collaboration is at the heart of everything we do.
Let us then share, engage, communicate and listen to one another while creating a better and productive work environment. Every individual effort counts in creating a larger shared meaning.