Communication and cooperation between different teams within an organisation create a significant impact on employee engagement, making it easier to get things done and improving efficiency and productivity, which, in turn results in increased profitability.
The drive to improve any form of team work usually comes in response to an outside pressure. This can be competitive challenges or pressure on profit margins; a truly business oriented organisation demands excellent co-operation and involvement within and between teams.
To ensure collaboration, leaders need to think about the processes operating between people and groups. There must be clear communication of what people need from each other (and do not need). In this way they can eliminate unnecessary work.
This way of thinking is difficult for leaders who may have operated for a long time in a culture where these activities were absent or not really required.
With the focus upon organisational results and how each function or business unit contributes to the whole picture, collaborative behaviours help to deliver in line with or exceed expectations.
Collaboration isn't easy as co-operation between groups can be difficult. I've found that these challenges revolve around probably four areas.
Firstly, leaders lack the confidence in their influencing skills and fear making things worse by having to show their possible weaknesses to other leaders and departments.
Secondly, leaders don't naturally find it easy to seek feedback about how others in the organisation see their functions or business units; they may also find it hard to offer feedback too in case it has repercussions upon them.
Leaders don't seem well versed or trained about how to create co-operation between groups or to be more collaborative. Working with a team of people can be hard, let alone work with people who are based in a different location, in a different function, a different region or indeed a different country.
Finally, leaders may not have received sufficient active encouragement or permission from the executive to work in this way to resolve business challenges together. Don't they say that power is control and the whole idea of working with others who don't directly report into you could be perceived that you are losing control?
My way of looking at it is that you are receiving input and different points of view on a particular challenge that may mean you come up with a better solution than if you just dealt with that issue in isolation.
If you want to improve team working between teams it is crucial to identify the key linkages across the organisation and work with leaders and their teams to really see how performance can be improved. You can always devise training for people but that alone is not the answer.
I've always found that rewarding leaders and staff for changing their approach is a better strategy. If you also ensure that joint or shared targets are introduced whereby it can't be achieved without the other team's support, it's amazing how quickly behaviour changes.
It's not easy to work collaboratively and support from the top is important to changing attitudes in this respect.
A lot of organisations are leaner than they were this time last year and it will take some significant business growth to encourage expenditure on resources to the previous levels. In which case use the resources that you have in a smarter way; collaboration makes jobs more challenging yes, but also can make them more interesting.
Collaboration motivates people to work harder and with dedication. It makes people feel valued as members of a team. However, not everyone recognises how much they can gain from working together.
Talented people will always see the benefits of a collaborative approach and will make it work - the question is, are you one of those smart talented people that can see why it pays to collaborate?
Dave Millner is consulting director of Kenexa EMEA.