The Successful Principles of Collaboration in the Workplace

Bake these five principles into your business to make sure your people collaborate as effectively as possible.

September 27, 2023
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Collaboration is the lifeblood of any successful business.

In fact, 86% of workers say ineffective collaboration and communication is the main cause of workplace failures.

And yet a massive 60% of workers find it difficult, very difficult, or nearly impossible to obtain information vital to their job from their colleagues.

Want to get your people pulling together to make your company’s vision a reality? 

Read on to discover the core principles of collaboration to bake into every area of your business to get your people singing from the same hymn sheet.

What are the 5 principles of collaboration?

Want to reap the benefits of collaboration in the workplace? You’ll need to do a lot more than pick the right workplace collaboration software.

First, you’ll need to get familiar with the principles of effective workplace collaboration – and make sure each one is baked into your culture suite.

1. Open communication

The mistake a lot of organizations make is thinking they can have it both ways.

They want their employees to be open books, sharing their insights and industry knowledge with their colleagues for the benefit of the business.

But they keep their people at arm’s length from top-level decisions and the thought processes behind them. 

But here’s the thing:

  • 80% of workers want to know more about how decisions are made in their company.
  • 87% would like more transparency from their organization in the future.
  • 84% of people say the way leaders behave is the single most important factor influencing behavior across their organizations.

So, if you want to encourage communication and collaboration in the workplace, be sure to lead by example and communicate openly and honestly with your people at all times.

2. Clear goals and objectives

The most effective organizations set ambitious but achievable goals, break those goals down into clear objectives, and then clearly communicate those goals and objectives to every one of their employees.

The end result? A workforce that’s all pulling together to achieve the same thing.

And yet 85% of workers say they aren’t even sure what their organization is trying to achieve – and 33% that their priorities change frequently. 

If your employees don’t even know what they’re working towards, then how they could work with another department to get there faster won’t even be on their radar.

Which is why setting clear goals and objectives is an essential step when it comes to encouraging collaboration across your business. 

3. Knowledge sharing

81% of employees say they feel frustrated when they can't get the information they need to do their job.

And that’s where knowledge sharing comes in.

House all your organization’s important information, guidelines, and processes in a central knowledge base and you’ll make a huge dent in the 20% of every working week the typical knowledge worker spends looking for information they need to complete their daily tasks.

This alone can change the tide on a lack of collaboration in the workplace in even the most siloed businesses.

4. Positive reinforcement

Want to know a simple hack for creating a more collaborative workplace?

Recognizing your employees whenever you see them cooperating effectively.

Don’t believe us?

Did you know:

  • 40% of employed Americans say they'd put more energy into their work if they were recognised more often?
  • 70% of employees say that motivation and morale would improve “massively” if managers simply said “thank you” more?
  • 37% of workers believe the most effective thing their employer can do to cause them to produce great work is to recognise them?

We crave recognition so much we’ll even respond to praise from a robot. When electronic systems were installed that celebrated hospital employees for using hand sanitiser, the number of staff who regularly washed their hands rose from an incredible 10% to 90%

So, when you see an example of effective collaboration in the workplace, be sure to reach out to the employee and praise them for a great job.

5. Accountability

Accountability is what gives the goals, deadlines, and KPIs within your organization meaning. 

However, a massive 82% of workers say they either try but fail to hold their colleagues accountable or avoid it altogether. 

And if no one ever gets held accountable for falling short of what’s expected of them, then why try?

If that’s how your employees end up feeling it’s a death knell for effective collaboration – not to mention employee engagement and retention.

And that’s why your organization’s leaders, managers, and employees all being held accountable for their commitments and responsibilities is the foundation of all successful collaboration in the workplace.

Putting collaboration principles into practice

You can arm your employees with the latest and greatest communication and collaboration tools.

But that’s not going to get you far unless you also bake the principles of effective collaboration into your internal communications plan.

Here’s a quick overview of how to put the principles of collaboration and team dynamics into practice within your business.

How to encourage open communication

Empowering your people with effective internal communication platforms is the first step in breaking up the silos within your business and encouraging a more collaborative company culture.

But your leaders are going to need to take the first step.

So, a simple way to kickstart a company culture that encourages collaboration is for your leaders to post regular CEO and Executive updates. If your directors lead with honesty, your people are a lot more likely to open up and share their own expertise.

How to set clear goals and objectives

Did you know only 40% of the average company’s employees know what its goals are?

Nip this issue in the bud in your business by making your organization's objectives crystal clear in each of your new hires’ 30-60-90 day plan.

Then make sure to focus your one-to-ones with direct reports around whether they’re on track to achieve their personal goals and KPIs.

Last but not least, use CEO and Executive updates and your workplace news feed to keep your people in the loop about how well you’re progressing towards your organization’s vision. Good things happen when your individual contributors can see the impact their day-to-day efforts are having on the company’s success.

How to encouraging knowledge sharing

Your employees aren’t going to use a knowledge sharing platform that’s difficult to access, clumsy to navigate, and impossible to search. Which means the knowledge sharing tool you choose needs to be easy to use – and integrate seamlessly with the software your team is already using.

So, be sure to think carefully about what the right knowledge sharing tools and techniques are for your workplace to help ensure your team engages with them.

How to encouraging reinforcement

Every employee likes to get recognized by their manager. 

But it might surprise you to hear that they appreciate praise from their colleagues even more, with peer-to-peer recognition being 36% more likely to improve your business’s bottom line than manager-only recognition.

Plus, 44% of workers will regularly recognize their teammates when they’re offered a simple tool that makes that easy to do.

Running a recognition program through your company knowledge base makes it easy to empower your employees to nominate their teammates to be rewarded for collaboration.

How to encouraging accountability

For an organization to be truly accountable, you need to encourage open and honest lines of communication across your teams. A team retrospective after each project is a great starting point. 

Encouraging your employees to take accountability for where they might have fallen short during the project – and suggesting areas their teammates might need to take accountability – is an incredibly effective way of creating a more accountable company culture.

The final word

One of the biggest mistakes your organization can make is to underestimate the importance of collaboration in the workplace. Bake the five principles we’ve covered here into every area of your business to avoid falling prey to the problems businesses of all sizes fall to when their people don’t communicate.

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