According to research by Gallup, only about a third of US employees feel that open information sharing happens in their organization. Less than a quarter believe there is satisfactory inter-departmental cooperation within their companies.
In a world where the smooth and steady flow of information is vital to business success, those numbers should be alarming.
Collaboration is vital to the healthy growth of an organization. A study cited by Forbes indicated that teams with high levels of cooperation and collaboration were better motivated, more satisfied, and required less hands-on management. Having teams that share within and across departmental or discipline boundaries enriches the culture and knowledge base, making the business more agile, better informed, and more productive.
Focus on process excellence
A collaborative environment needs nurturing and doesn’t happen by accident. Setting up avenues for information sharing is vital, and promoting teamwork requires platforms that make it possible. One of the best opportunities businesses have is building cooperation in the workplace with process excellence.
Process excellence is about making sure the company is doing the right things the right way. It’s a strategy of orientation, not arrival, where the business embarks on a journey of continuous improvement. By focusing on process knowledge, new efficiencies are found and value can be added for all the stakeholders.
That’s where the collaboration comes in.
Place your people at the core
Traditionally, process initiatives have been externally resourced. Process experts from outside the organization sweep through, collecting data and analyzing patterns to assemble a comprehensive procedure manual which will likely never see the light of day again.
While it’s effective in reducing day-to-day disruptions, this approach leaves business units disconnected from the finished product, and as a result, the processes themselves. When teams are engaged in the practice of process improvement though, there’s greater engagement and you start to develop opportunities to share knowledge.
Continuous improvement invites collaboration. Done well, a process excellence culture empowers employees at every level to own their processes and take an active part in improving them. Because they are the experts on what it is that they do, they are the best equipped to see where waste could be eliminated, where breakdowns could be avoided, and where different approaches could yield greater returns.
Hand over the reins
There are two great avenues for building cooperation in the workplace:
Giving process participants a voice tells them that their inherent knowledge is valued. When they can easily find and provide feedback on the processes they use regularly, they can take an active part in improving their workflows.
What’s more, by capturing that hard-won experience, the business can scale it across different divisions or locations, multiplying the increased capacity or reduced costs. When business units see their insights being celebrated across the organization, they’ll be enthusiastic about sharing more, as will others who want to contribute and be recognized for what they bring to the table.
Not every practice in your business needs to be captured in your procedure manual or process platform. However, sometimes there will be regular activities that require incumbent knowledge that should be recorded or semi-cyclical events with certain protocols that aren’t easy to find.
In those instances, giving team members the capacity to capture those details brings them on board as local process experts. By offering ways to suggest new processes, a business can develop a culture that values shared knowledge and encourages contributions.
With good governance, those suggestions can be shaped and refined into valuable process information for the benefit of other business groups or departments. What was once precious knowledge held in one person’s head can become an asset for the whole company.
Collaboration is a key factor in successful business cultures and a vital part of process excellence. By encouraging and facilitating process improvements and suggestions, companies can develop an environment of cooperation and creative sharing that will strengthen not just the organization’s processes, but the teams and business groups that contribute to them.
Interested in learning how Nintex can help progress process excellence in your organization? Click here to request a live demo.