Collaboration is a big buzzword at the moment. It’s hardly surprising: collaboration is proven to increase revenue, improve employee wellbeing and well as help establish a shared sense of responsibility in cross organisational departments. However, there have also been studies about the harm collaboration can give individuals, as their workload is increased but their KPIs remain the same.
Here we’ll take a quick look at the problems plaguing collaborative working today. We will then look at resolving these issues.
Many organisations are grouped into silos. Sometimes these silos can be extremely specific; even under one broad area like ‘marketing’, the digital department can be different to the customer community department which is separate from the social media team.
When workplace teams fail to collaborate and share key information it can cause a silo mindset. Departments tend not to see the bigger picture. They don’t understand how their actions impact a wider company vision and get bogged down by their own KPIs.
This is detrimental to the long-term goals of businesses. Silo mentality is common and can happen in very small organisations as well as huge enterprises.
The problem: the high and lows of collaboration in the workplace
A study by CEB shows that collaboration boosts revenue by $16,400 and profit by $2,500 per employee annually on average. This is by encouraging ‘enterprise contributors’ who collaborate across the silos.
Conversely, research by the Harvard Business Review demonstrated collaboration can cause a burnout effect. This is because high-performers are relied on too much for many different projects. In the majority of cases, 20-25% of collaborative tasks come from 3-5% of employees.
This is clearly a huge amount of responsibility to place on only a few members of the team. In most cases, this can cause collaborative employees to be overburdened and encumbered. They often leave the organisation.
Many companies are scratching their heads to find a solution to collaborating well within an organisation. On the one hand, they want to break down silos, but on the other, they do not want to lose their top employees.
Collaboration is key in small teams, where a clear framework is set as to why the team is collaborating together.
We propose a solution. Collaboration is key in small teams, where a clear framework is set as to why the team is collaborating together. These teams don’t need to be from the same department – but they do need to have a clear reason to work together. This way, you will see the benefits of a diverse group of minds working on a problem, but it will not lead them to burn out as the group is given purpose and structure.
Setting objectives and giving purpose to projects and tasks
Setting objectives to projects means teams to share a common purpose. The solution is to promote a collaborative environment that enables teams to share a common goal and purpose and stopping collaboration overload by setting controlled boundaries to projects and tasks.
The following infographics will show you how you can best collaborate in teams.
Choose the team you work with carefully
In order to make sure that particular individuals are not inundated with requests to collaborate, you should think about which specific people you ask to collaborate with.
The major obstacle facing organisations is enabling effective collaboration
For starters, we should address the problem presented by HBR. Enterprise contributors tend to be overwhelmed with requests to collaborate.
Good collaborators tend to be ‘mini celebrities’ in their organisations. They have established a great internal brand, and so they are overwhelmed with requests to collaborate. However, it doesn’t mean to say that less extrovert employees who work beside them couldn’t equally offer a great opinion to the project.
For example, if Sarah, a marketing expert in your company is overburdened by the tasks given to him – ask yourself if there is anyone else the marketing department could you go to. Louise, who may be a more junior member of the marketing department may well have the expertise up to the level you’re looking for.
Being selective about who you aren’t collaborating with can be as crucial as who you do collaborate with
Similarly, it may be the case that you don’t actually need a marketing expert to collaborate with at all. Being selective about who you aren’t collaborating with can be as crucial as who you do collaborate with. We have all been at the mercy of a long email thread which only really concerns the work of 2 members of the group.
Using Cronycle boards to collaborate
1. Create a Cronycle board based on the purpose of the project
Let’s say you have been asked to write an article on the impact of content overload in marketing. Name your board with the purpose of the project in mind. In this case it would be ‘content_overload’.
2. Add a description to the board
Set the boundaries and parameters to the board. You may state what kind of insights you’re after – if you were just after hard facts and stats you should say so. This would eliminate opinion editorials being added to the mix. You may just be after annotations on competitors articles. There is a wide range of guidelines you can give your collaborators so they know exactly what is expected of them.
3. Pin articles that are relevant to your article or research
Create a personalised newsfeed to monitor add new articles that are relevant to your research, and add them directly to the board from Cronycle.
… or add relevant directly from your browser using our content clippers.
4. Annotate and share information with your team
- Annotate and highlight articles that are relevant to your project and research
- Add value to the board by adding your expertise through notes
- Comment and a feedback on your colleague comments and articles