Partnership Principles: 6 Strategies for Successful Workplace Collaboration

Explore the benefits of collaboration with examples and strategies for developing a company culture with teamwork at its core. 
team of colleagues work together around a table

There's no "I" in "team." This lesson may have originated from the sporting world, but it's worth remembering in the modern workplace, too. When individual team members work in harmony alongside each other, not to compete but to participate, the entire business benefits from this collaboration. It's a successful blending of skills, experiences, and perspectives that drives a company forward. 

In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of collaboration, some successful collaboration examples, and strategies for developing a company culture with teamwork at its core. 

What does effective workplace collaboration look like?

Workplace collaboration happens when two or more people come together to accomplish a shared goal. When collaboration is successful, it might look like: 

  • Teams collectively brainstorming a new project or product direction, with everyone feeling welcome to offer their creative spin on things. 
  • Employees attending a project kick-off meeting and openly discussing potential roadblocks and how to address them. 
  • Adjacent departments finding new ways to streamline efficient processes between them.
  • Company leadership using insights from junior employees to create a culture of open communication and mutual respect. 

Why is workplace collaboration important? 

76% of workers report that they enjoy working collaboratively, and by doing so, they achieve the following organizational benefits: 

  • Improved productivity: Teamwork is known to significantly improve employee output. In one study of telecommunication firms, 40% of the change in productivity was attributed to collaborative teamwork. 
  • Increased employee engagement: UKG Human Insights Group discovered that creating an empowering work environment, including the ability for virtual collaboration in remote teams, is key to improving engagement and employee morale. 
  • Boosted creativity: Teamwork can spark innovation on a greater level than individual brainstorming, as evidenced by Harvard Business Review, which conducted a series of lab experiments to demonstrate the link between positive team relationships and creativity
  • Greater knowledge sharing: When information flows freely from one department to the next, this cross-team collaboration removes knowledge silos and ensures that projects progress without interference. 
  • Enhanced agility: Collaboration ensures companies can quickly adapt or pivot according to the changing market or a new growth opportunity. According to Deloitte, 72% of executives report that their people's ability to adapt, reskill, and assume new roles is a top factor in navigating future disruptions. 
  • Elevated employer brand: People want to work in organizations where anything is possible. Teams that work together can improve employee retention rates and shape an employer brand that attracts new talent to join and succeed in your organization. 

6 ways to ensure workplace collaboration 

Achieving effective collaboration can feel challenging if your teams are at odds with each other or if you're struggling to build a culture of teamwork. To overcome these obstacles, commit to the following strategies, which organizations of any size can adapt to suit their specific business goals: 

1. Establish clear goals 

Multiple heads have the potential for chaos if they're not working towards a clear destination. The SMART goal framework allows leaders to achieve clarity by setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. 

Example of a SMART team goal
Consider a marketing team responsible for increasing the company's social media presence. Their SMART goal could be:

  • Specific: Increase the company's Instagram followers by 20% and engagement rate by 15%. 
  • Measurable: Use online tools to track the number of new followers and the change in engagement rate, defined by likes, shares, and comments per post.
  • Attainable: The team's expertise in social media marketing and the planned investment in social media ads ensures this goal is realistic. 
  • Relevant: Boosting social media presence enhances brand awareness and supports overall marketing efforts, aligning with the broader business objectives.
  • Time-bound: The goal’s deadline is the end of the third quarter, providing a clear deadline for assessment.

2. Maintain open communication

Transparent communication from the top of your organization ensures that every employee understands the company’s mission and how their role in the team, project, or organization allows them to contribute meaningfully. To maintain open and honest communication, managers, executives, and team leaders can: 

  • Deliver regular updates in town hall meetings, newsletters, and internal social media platforms to keep everyone informed on company progress, developments, and changes. 
  • Draft an effective communication strategy detailing when employees should update each other and the communication channels they should use. For example, you might provide guidelines on when an employee should communicate a project update through email versus a team chat or in-person meeting.
  • Articulate a strong company mission, which is essential to 81% of workers who want their work to have a bigger impact, according to Howspace's State of Collaboration Report
  • Encourage accountability by assigning task ownership to specific team members and inviting them to provide regular updates. 
  • Enable two-way communication by collecting feedback from employees regularly and responding quickly. 

3. Foster mutual respect 

Team collaboration hinges on individual colleagues feeling able and willing to freely engage in respectful discussions with each other. Whether raising concerns, offering an interesting point of view, or providing a timely update, this openness ensures everyone is on the same page and maintains strong working relationships. For communication to be effective across all ranks, roles, and departments, leaders must: 

  • Create a psychologically safe space where everyone is comfortable sharing their opinions without fear of judgment or repercussions. 
  • Build rich and diverse teams, including a mix of genders, ages, races, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, to cultivate an environment where mutual respect is a natural outcome.
  • Ensure colleagues actively listen to each other's points of view. Howspace's report reveals 1 in 4 employees rate "having my voice heard" higher than development opportunities in terms of what they want from their employers.
  • Address misunderstandings and conflicts proactively by listening to all parties and mediating between them to find common ground. 
  • Develop strong interpersonal relationships between managers and employees, providing the time for regular 1:1 conversations and creating two-way feedback loops where direct reports deliver honest opinions to their superiors.

Leadership speaker and best-selling author Sally Helgesen delved into the importance of managers listening to others on the New Level Work podcast.

"A certain degree of humility, which isn't always rewarded in the workplace, is very important for collaboration. I think we're moving out of hero leader mentality we've had since the Industrial Era — it's a holdover where the leader is the great person, and everybody else is doing his bidding. That's made collaboration very difficult in general."

Sally Helgesen

Leadership Expert

4. Celebrate individual achievements

People thrive when those around them appreciate their efforts. In a peer setting, a positive dynamic exists when team members take the time to praise and thank each other. 

Leaders can create a collaborative environment based on a foundation of appreciation by creating an employee recognition policy that: 

  • Defines the positive behaviors and outcomes you want to reinforce. 
  • Describes suitable methods of delivering gratitude, such as highlighting someone’s positive achievements in a team meeting, taking the entire team out to lunch to celebrate a milestone, or using formal recognition software to deliver structured rewards. 
  • Explains the recommended frequency of delivering recognition, such as daily or weekly, rather than just relying on annual performance reviews. 
  • Gives specific examples of what has been achieved and how an individual’s efforts have helped the team or the organization. 
  • Reminds leaders to personalize recognition so it resonates with different personalities and preferences—some might like public praise in front of their peers while others crave a private message from their boss.

5. Provide necessary resources

Your team members can only achieve their best when fully equipped to collaborate. The onus is on leaders to provide a wide range of resources, which should be available throughout the entire employee lifecycle from onboarding to offboarding. Some options include: 

  • Opportunities to collaborate such as regular in-person or video conference meetings, or access to shared digital workspaces or documentation where comments and updates are welcomed. 
  • Workload monitoring to prevent employee burnout and resentment that impacts teams when tasks aren’t assigned thoughtfully. 
  • Soft skills training in interpersonal and communication skills to enhance employee collaboration. 
  • Mentorship partnerships between experienced staff members and junior employees to ensure institutional knowledge cascades down and throughout your organization. 
  • Repetitive task automation that streamlines processes to give back time to focus on higher-level work that promotes creativity and productivity. 

6. Invest in digital tools 

Work communication tools are an investment worth making, especially when your team is working remotely. But with the average enterprise juggling 323 different SaaS tools, it’s important to choose a collaboration platform that provides a genuine environment for colleagues to communicate, share, and make better-informed decisions. A great talent collaboration app offers: 

  • Feedback systems, including employee-manager conversations, goal-setting, and the ability to host collaborative reviews. 
  • Sentiment analysis, using employee surveys to engage your workforce and regularly take the pulse of your organization. 
  • Candidate communication, enabling you to build positive relationships with applicants throughout the recruitment process. 
  • Accessibility features ensuring your company attracts and retains a wider and more diverse pool of talent. 
  • Mobile access allowing your team to collaborate on-the-go from anywhere at any time. 
  • Frontline worker support to include non-desk employees in critical collaboration processes. 

Effective workplace collaboration is a vital component for the success of any organization. By harnessing the collective intelligence, skills, and creativity of team members, businesses can achieve remarkable outcomes and stay competitive in today's market.

Ready to grow a collaborative culture across your organization? Book a free UKG product demo tour today to see our platform in action.