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Collaboration: the not-so-secret weapon for productivity
Team collaboration is a must. It seems easy to achieve, but as a leader, I have asked myself these questions many times -
Do I collaborate enough with my peers across the company?
Do my peers find it worthy of their time to reach out to me for cross functional projects?
Does the team that reports to me collaborate with other teams within my own organization ?
Do my teams collaborate with other teams across the company?
I believe that, as leaders, we have to own the collaboration effort not just within our team, but ensure that our teams are well positioned to collaborate with other teams across the company.
When I was leading the India office for Udacity as its Managing Director, I found some of the below practices very useful to foster a culture of collaboration:
Alignment through OKRs- OKRs, done on a quarterly basis, was a great way to collaborate across teams and then tie those to overall India OKRs. It was a big help in addressing dependencies, eliminating silos, and creating alignment towards the same goal.
Collaboration started at the top- there were weekly leadership meetings to review the OKRs, share what was happening in the other teams and candidly discuss the challenges along the way
Shared goals across team members drove collaboration- the leadership ensured that all their team members sharing OKRs across different teams had regular check-ins with each other to create full transparency on the progress. And, if something was affecting their goals, they would take necessary action on it.
Skip level meetings provided greater visibility of challenges in the organization- When any of my skip-level managers or I identified issues during skip-level meetings, we made sure that we connected them to relevant people to resolve issues and conflicts.
(Read more on why I think skip level meetings are gold for leaders here. )
Fun built more trust - we had multiple activities and team-building exercises to help people understand each other’s work and develop empathy towards one another. One of the exercises that always yielded rich results was asking colleagues to write what they thought were another colleague’s daily tasks. When they would start describing the other person’s work, they would also start really respecting their work.
A collaborative work environment wherein people empathize and respect each other, learn from each other and share goals that matter, is bound to have higher productivity and employment engagement.
Some of the above practices for collaborations have helped me to build really strong teams. But most importantly, I always try to remember that there can never be enough collaboration!