"8 Ways to Build Collaborative Teams" Inspires

The Decision Making and Leadership readings are invariably a mixed bag. They are meant to be. Last week's read "Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams" was inspiring and authentic in more ways than one. The study looked at huge companies with truly large, diverse, far flung teams to make its case. In taking seemingly ‘too big’ companies as case studies, it was able to drive home the point that if collaborative efforts and team spirit could be fostered here, it surely could be done with relatively smaller teams and relatively smaller companies. Having worked extensively in a virtual environment myself, every point made by the authors rang true. Face-to-Face interaction, even small doses of it at regular intervals, can make all the difference. Most employees can recognize at least a few of these "tips" playing out at their own companies, no matter the industry or organization’s size. From open floor plans to offices campuses that mimic a town to HR sponsored events where employees can socialize to job rotation - these concrete ideas can be emulated or inspire variations. Google, in fact, shares some of these very features. Those in upper management, including the founders, are always accessible to answer questions and have conversations, fostering a sense of “ we are all in this together”. Further, its offices are on "college like-campuses", with plenty of room for social interaction. A local family owned business, that a member of my family works for, fosters this ‘we’re all family” feeling. Come Thanksgiving, all employees receive a check for a turkey purchase, in "thanks". At its annual Holiday Party, the keynote address and annual overview of the company's doings are delivered by a sprightly old lady. She is the grand-mother of the current Company President and the grand-daughter of the original founder of the company. There certainly were benefits from HR investing in relationships, for all the reasons listed in this article. My favorite examples though were Nokia and BP’s job rotation initiative. Job Rotation at BP probably fostered collaboration because it is easier to see another’s perspective ( and empathize with their challenges) if you’ve been in their shoes at some stage. Also, imagine the dollars, time and opportunities salvaged when Nokia’s mentors not only point out whom new employees should build relationships with, but facilitate those interactions with paid time/ travel, and information as to what one can discuss with the other. Truly some very cool ideas!