As increasing connectivity between colleagues breaks down traditional work siloes, collaboration has become a catch-cry for business success. However, according to data collected by Harvard Business Review from more than 300 organisations, as much of a third of value-added collaborations can come from only three to five per cent of employees.
This is evidence that collaboration is far from a company-wide practice for many businesses, and poor internal communication could be derailing your best efforts to incorporate collaboration into the DNA of your organisation.
Here are five things you can do to improve internal communication and boost collaboration in your business.
1. Improve horizontal and vertical communication lines
Employees must be able to seamlessly communicate with each other (horizontal) and with their managers or department heads (vertical) to maximise their collaborative power.
Improve both horizontal and vertical communication lines with messaging apps such as Slack, which allow you to structure team communications in open or private channels with direct messaging functionality. Alternatively, HipChat is a similar app that integrates file sharing with group and private chat. It also uses video and screen sharing technology to enrich internal communications.
2. Enable company-wide conversations
The key to achieving effective collaboration in your organisation lies in breaking down traditional barriers between departments to encourage company-wide knowledge sharing.
Messaging apps are a good start. However, you should also consider hosting inter-departmental forums or webinars that bring together expertise from across your company to offer new perspectives on solving problems. This will not only improve your internal communications by strengthening cross-departmental networks, but also secure buy-in from various stakeholders your company to make change management easy.
3. Deploy social intranet software
Implementing social intranet software is an excellent way to encourage your team to build stronger working relationships. Staff profiles should be searchable by expertise to help your people find colleagues who can contribute to a current project. Also, encouraging social interaction between departments will contribute to creating a team-based workplace culture where people understand their common goals, and information and knowledge flows more freely.
4. Hold town hall meetings
To become effective communicators, employees must understand how each department’s goals are linked to achieving overall business objectives. This means departments must not be in competition with each other; instead, they must add value to each other to help achieve common goals. Hold regular town hall meetings where all staff attend – either in person or via web cam – to hear department work-in-progress updates, ask questions and identify opportunities to contribute to inter-departmental projects.
5. Get leadership buy-in
Support for any internal communications measures you implement must come from the top down. Managers and department heads should play a leading, visible role on any new technology platforms you deploy. But most importantly, they have to support staff in contributing to projects across departments. If your employees feel their manager doesn’t support their stepping across departmental lines, then your internal communications will quickly fade to black.
To improve internal communications and boost collaborative power, companies must therefore take proactive measures to strengthen inter-departmental ties, as well as build support from those in leadership roles.