Collaboration is essentially the practice of sharing knowledge and ideas to achieve a common goal. Companies are now embracing it to leverage the experience and maximize resources in a fast-paced business world. According to Harvard Business Review, over the past two decades, collaborative work activities have increased by fifty percent or more. That’s great if your group works well together and shares a loyalty to the company. What if they don’t? How do you build a collaborative team? Start by focusing on the individuals. A well-run, performing team is comprised of engaged, happy people. And you can create happy employees by encouraging and supporting personal fulfillment.
You may have seen Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a theory of human motivation, in your college psychology course. Every person has five levels of human needs that determine how fulfilled he or she feels. How is this relevant to building productive, motivated workgroups? Understanding this hierarchy can help you effectively motivate employees and build a collaborative team.
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In the hierarchy, there are five tiers that progress from basic safety needs to self-actualization. Each level builds on the previous and impacts employees’ overall satisfaction with their workplace. Once our basic safety and physiological needs are satisfied, we desire to have purpose, value, and goals.
Collaborative Team Builders:
We all need to get up each morning and feel the work we are doing has purpose and meaning. That personal connection to the organization builds an engaged, loyal team that works harder, helps peers, and considers what is best for the company.
- Identify what fuels your employees. What are their passions? What gets them excited to work? If you can identify factors that drive them, both personally and professionally, you can use those to motivate effectively.
- Have employees work using their strengths to produce their best work. If it takes a lot of effort or time for someone to write web content, take that off her plate. Assign a team member who gets fired up by creative writing tasks. Thomas Britt at Clemson University found if people are not given a chance to use their talents, their levels of engagement and job commitment are reduced. Use a strengths test to determine each person’s skills and how to capitalize on them.
- Empower employees to take action by delegating tasks and trusting them. If workers are encouraged to make decisions on their own, it proves you respect and values them. Leaders can make this easier by providing clear communication and feedback.
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When people feel valued and connected in their companies, they become part of something bigger than themselves. There is increased loyalty to peers, leaders, and the organization. Employees will even pass up a higher-paying position with a different company to remain with their work “family.”
- Appreciate your team with recognition and praise. It is key for employees to feel valued and that their job contributes to the company’s ultimate success. In a recent national survey, over 80% of employees claimed they would work harder if management expressed more appreciation.
- Share gratitude with top-down leadership to spread gratitude through the company. Tell employees why the work they do matters. Express how they are valuable to your team. Pay attention and use specific examples when sharing feedback.
- Create connections on professional and personal levels. Get to know your team outside of work. What do they do on the weekends? What do they enjoy doing to avoid burnout? Find time to socialize and learn more about your peers.
Employees desire the opportunity to have a vision for their future and maximize their potential at work. Mercer performed a survey that found 78% of employees said they would remain with their current company longer if they see a career path within that organization.
- Encourage your employees to clarify their dreams and goals. Then create a roadmap to help them achieve those goals within your company. Clear goal setting and consistent feedback help people stay on track.
- Align employees’ everyday activities with their goals. Make sure the work they are doing targets their goals. Researchers at the University of Alberta found employees who focused on their jobs’ meaningfulness exhibited a 60% decrease in absenteeism and a 75% decrease in employee turnover. Opportunities for advancement, mentors, and frequent reviews create alignment.
- Empowered employees are happy employees. Allow them the freedom to create and make decisions. Schedule open brainstorming meetings and implement workers’ ideas. Encourage team members to develop agency. For example, Southwest Airlines allows employees to go the extra mile to make customers happy without asking for a supervisor’s permission.
As business models increasingly depend on collaborative work to meet ever-changing demands, leaders are the drivers that can establish an environment where people feel respected and engaged.
Without engagement, employers will experience higher employee turnover rates, low morale, and a lack of collaboration. By investing in its employees’ overall happiness and striving for fulfilled workers, a company ultimately creates the collaborative teams it needs to succeed.