Internal collaboration is key to any organization’s success. However, the larger an organization becomes, the more difficult it is to organize effectively. Adding to the challenge, today’s international workplace demands that teams work in complicated, high-pressure situations that span across time, space and even cultures — without losing any of the efficiency needed to get the job done right.
For executives and management, rising to meet this challenge is essential. Organizations that fail to bridge these gaps quickly find themselves falling behind their more efficient competitors.
This modern reality makes it more important than ever to know what effective internal collaboration looks like, how to create the structure for it and how to keep it going over the long-term.
It All Starts With Trust
One of the most important things management can do is identify the situations that have either positive or negative effects on trust, and then act accordingly.
For example, building new teams with people who already have long-standing relationships with each another means you’ll have the foundational trust necessary to create effective internal communication structures from the beginning of the project. This saves serious time and effort down the road that might otherwise be wasted on discovering that a team doesn’t work well together.
Conversely, if a group or team takes on a life of its own that seems divorced from the rest of the organization, a clique may be forming, in which case, action is needed. Cliques are described as a type of corporate “tribalism” and are a negative indicator of trust, revealing a desire to separate from the larger group for some reason.
Build Teams The Right Way
Internal collaboration works best when team members value the need to communicate with one another. Structurally, therefore, it’s important that teams have a clear design made up of defined roles.
If team members are unsure what’s expected of them, who they need to connect with to accomplish a goal, or what the authority hierarchy is, they don’t know who they need to talk to. At this point, effective internal collaboration is impossible, no matter how much the various members respect and trust one another.
To combat this, management must think through both internal communication best practices (such as file sharing and forums) and the skills required to effectively complete the task. Once these factors are established, it’s important to select members without redundant skill sets.
Teams that draw upon a diverse range of relationships within the company not only limit the “clique” effect, but also allow enrich the team’s internal collaboration with expertise from numerous diverse influences.
Lead From The Top
There is no other way; executive and senior management must lead by example. Even at the largest organizations, employees notice the way communication is handled at the top of the food chain.
It’s no secret that top-level management creates the company culture. Yet the nature and scope of this role is very often underestimated. This is important, because setting the tone for effective internal collaboration requires more than simply top-level management talking to one another. They must let their support be known.
Internal collaboration is a top-to-bottom commitment that involves understanding the social dynamic that exists between employees. It requires a thorough understanding of the roles needed to complete a project properly. How else can you correctly strut and organize teams to accomplish your goals, much less continue to improve all of them?
While this may sound overwhelming at first, taking time to carefully build your teams for internal collaboration success will more than pay for itself in the long-run.
Want to learn more how internal communities help your organization? This 21-page guide details the key success factors fueling internal collaboration initiatives for Patagonia, Avant and many others. Get it here.