Creating a Collaborative Workplace

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 19, 2006

Creating a productive and collaborative workplace is not easy, but as a small-business owner, building such an environment starts with you. Here are some tips:

1. Make sure everyone on the team knows exactly what the mission and goals are.

2. Clearly articulate everyone’s roles and responsibilities.

3. Cultivate a variety of work styles, talents, and skills to ensure a creative mix of perspective, experience, and thought.

4. Create a relaxed work climate with an emphasis on collaboration.

5. Take advantage of lessons learned to leverage what has worked in the past and what missteps to avoid.

6. Confront problems as soon as they arise to clear the air and allow the work and relationships to move forward.

7. Empower the team to carry out its work.

Mallary Tytel
President and Founder
Healthy Workplaces
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Reader Comments

Randy Bancino

November 22, 2006 3:55 PM

Mallary Tytel raises some excellent points with respect to creating a collaborative workplace. I would like to add, however, that it is nearly impossible to establish a collaborative workplace without establishing trust in the workplace. When trust is absent, relationships are characterized by an adversarial attitude: me vs. you; us vs. them. Rather than goodwill, there may be deep, often hidden animosities and resentments. We struggle against one another for what we want. The more you win, the more I lose and vice versa. Respect is lost and our performance is compromised as our energies go into manipulation, coercion, and protection rather than working towards our shared vision.

Organizations that create a collaborative workplace are those that know how to create a climate of trust among all of their employees. Doing so is not easy and requires the alignment of philosophy and organizational design. However, even more important than these elements is the quality of person-to-person interactions. Trust is a highly subjective experience that is strengthened or weakened each day through our interactions, the respect we demonstrate, the way we talk to people, and the way we go about working out our differences of opinion and competing needs.

Randy Bancino
Managing Partner
Profitable Growth Partners, LLC.

Jerome Alexander

December 31, 2006 8:16 PM

Employees come to work with an implicit trust that management is always working in the best interest of the company and its employees. That trust cannot ever be taken for granted. Top executives seem to have forgotten all of this. Corporations now seem to exist for the benefit of executives and managers instead of the other way around. Employees are no more than pawns in a game played by Jack Welch wannabees who haven't a clue about real leadership. Buzzwords, Acronyms, and gimmicks won't cut it. Read more in "160 Degrees of Deviation: The Case for the Corporate Cynic."

Jerome Alexander

January 14, 2007 10:54 AM

Employees come to work with an implicit trust that their managers are always working for the best interest of the company and its employees. That trust should not and cannot ever be taken for granted. Look what is happening today. It is no longer "What's good for the company is good for the manager." It has become "What's good for the manager is good for the company." Top executives have totally lost sight of this phenomenon and are allowing managers to run amok for their own personal agendas.
Several years ago I wrote a book on the subject of workplace culture and employee morale. It is as relevant today as it was then. Employee morale is directly linked to the interaction of employees with line managers who are charged with executing the policies and strategies of companies. Unfortunately, many of these managers subvert the good intentions of the organization to meet their own personal goals and agendas at the expense of their peers and subordinates. This management subculture is the result of a corporate culture of ignorance, indifference and excuse. Better corporate level leadership is the key. Read more in "160 Degrees of Deviation: The Case for the Corporate Cynic."

Jerome Alexander

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