How to Improve Performance by Encouraging Collaboration

The ability to work together towards a common goal is one of humanity’s greatest strengths, and one you can leverage to improve performance in the workplace. Teamwork statistics and collaboration research consistently prove collaboration positively impacts productivity. According to a Stanford study, people who are encouraged to collaborate stick to a given task 64 percent longer than peers who work alone, while reporting higher engagement levels, less fatigue, and higher success rates.

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Teamwork Statistics

Stanford isn’t the only organization to delve into collaboration research. The following teamwork statistics demonstrate a clear preference among employees for collaborative work:

  • 33 percent of millennials prefer collaborative workspaces, and 49 percent favor using social media tools for workplace collaboration.
  • 86 percent of employees and executives blame a lack of collaboration and poor communication for workplace failures.
  • 37 percent of employees cite working closely with a great team as their primary reason for staying with a company.
  • 33 percent of employees say the ability to collaborate makes them more loyal.
  • 39 percent of employees believe their organization doesn’t collaborate enough.

Based on these teamwork statistics alone, the case for increased collaboration seems clear. Switching to a more collaborative workspace takes time, but it’s well worth the effort.

Purpose is Key

A clear sense of purpose is necessary to foster collaboration. Set specific team goals with clear deadlines and then take the following steps to promote collaborative work.

Reward the Team, Not the Individual

Traditionally, talent management systems reward individual workers. The assumption is individual rewards foster a sense of competition, encouraging employees to strive to outperform their coworkers.

If you want to encourage collaboration, however, stop rewarding individuals and start rewarding the team as a whole. Collaborative research may indicate employees want more teamwork, but they also need incentives to work together. Find ways to reward your team for engaging in collaborative behavior, and emphasize that it’s the team, not the individual, that’s responsible for success.

Improve Communication

Effective communication facilitates collaboration. Coworkers need to be able to interact without any obstacles and ensure all team members are on the same page. This is especially important when dealing with remote workers, who have face-to-face meetings with coworkers infrequently, if at all.

Communication tools, goal management applications, texting, and video-conferencing all help remote and onsite employees collaborate. Onsite employees can benefit from short weekly (or even daily) meetings to touch base and bring everyone up to speed on ongoing projects.

Remember that managers are part of any collaborative team. Scheduling regular 1:1 meetings with team members helps managers stay in the loop, monitor projects, and keep lines of communication open.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to One-on-Ones

Increase Employee Engagement

Employee engagement and collaboration form a feedback loop; Engaged employees are more likely to collaborate, and collaboration increases engagement. Implementing a collaborative solution or completing a team-based project usually increases employee engagement, resulting in happier employees and greater productivity moving forward.

As you move toward a more collaborative workplace, actively work to build relationships based on trust, and balance decision-making with consensus building. When you make people feel like trusted team members, they’ll be more engaged with collaborative efforts.

Encourage Innovation

Collaboration allows employees to pool resources and talents to complete projects and create solutions which would overwhelm individual workers. A team of employees — especially a team of diverse employees — has a better chance of finding and implementing creative solutions and innovations than a group of coworkers who act independently of each other.

Capitalize on this by fostering an open environment in which innovation is desired, encouraged, and rewarded. Employees should feel safe when proposing solutions and be confident their views will be heard and respected, even if ultimately the team chooses not to pursue their suggestions.