A team effort: how collaborative working boosts performance

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Do you ever feel as though the office is an island? You spend most of the day head down, doing your job. Depending on what you do, that could mean dealing with a variety of different people or tasks, all with their own nuances, requirements and challenges. Or, do you work remotely? According to the Office of National Statistics, it is predicted that 50% of the UK workforce will be working remotely in 2020. As these figures continue to climb, there has been a greater need for web-based technology to enable collaborative working across different time zones and geographical locations.

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“Although competition promotes performance, collaboration is far more effective for promoting learning.” – Marvin Marshall, ‘Using Perks as Motivators’

There are vast reservoirs of untapped knowledge in your organisation. Understanding the best ways to utilise that knowledge can be hugely beneficial to your company’s bottom line. Interestingly, in schools, children are being taught collaboratively in order to prepare them for the modern workplace – yet in that workplace we’re not doing nearly enough to learn from each other.

One study, carried out by Stanford University, revealed that working as a team can significantly boost performance. During the study, it was observed that the participants who were primed to act collaboratively stuck at their task 64% longer than their solitary peers. In addition to this, they also reported higher levels of engagement, lower fatigue and a higher success rate. These effects lasted for several weeks.

What this showed was that simply feeling as though you’re part of a team can be enough to drive motivation.

Luis E.Romero

, an MIT-trained economist, speaker and author, states that “when a team develops a culture based on humility, hard work, excellence and learning, its members become able to translate both their victories and their failures into inputs for continuous improvement.” He also highlights that in doing so, each team member will also benefit from the opportunity to develop the specialised skills that give the team a competitive advantage. Romero has cited learning as one of the key factors in developing this culture; as the modern learning landscape moves away from formal, classroom-based training, learners are looking for more informal opportunities to learn from their peers and mentors. Collaborative learning is the perfect way to facilitate this.

How Can You Encourage Collaboration?

In our previous blog post, ‘The Changing Role of L&D: The Power of Collaboration’, we discussed how L&D practitioners can collaborate with their own stakeholders to boost the success of L&D in their organisations. But how can we encourage collaboration between the employees themselves? Let’s take a look at some simple methods.

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1. Make Everybody Part of a Shared Vision

Your leaders set the goals and vision for the business, but to cultivate a true culture of learning, you need to ensure that everybody in the organisation is aware of and working towards these same goals. Not only does this give employees a sense of direction, but it also allows people to see how their work is relevant and contributes to organisational success. Collaboration and teamwork needs to start at the top, and it’s important that employees are constantly kept up to date with any changes or developments in the business if they are to feel a part of it. This is precisely why 88% of high performing organisations ensure there is a communication plan in place for all key stakeholders.

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2. Encourage Open Communication

Does your organisation have an open, inquisitive culture? Do employees feel comfortable talking about upskilling, asking about resources and offering suggestions for improvement? Are people comfortable giving and receiving constructive criticism?

A culture of open communication is fundamental to a collaborative working environment. If employees feel that their views will be listened to and valued in a safe space, they will be more inclined to contribute to a group and find ways to use their strengths in ways that complement others’. As a result, everyone will know exactly who to look to for certain skills and will be able to share their knowledge with others – and ensures that work gets done in a faster time, to a higher standard.

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3. Implement Collaborative Technologies

So, how can we develop a collaborative culture when remote working is on the rise and people are working from different geographical locations and in different time zones?

Well, the secret is in the ability to harness collaborative, informal learning and make it centralised in one virtual space that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Creating networks of employees and allowing them to join communities of practice pertaining to similar areas of work, themes or disciplines is a good start. Ideally, these should allow free discussion and a safe environment to share ideas, multimedia, solutions and suggestions. The best solutions allow employees to create their own networks to focus on nuances or in-depth analysis and give them the opportunity to invite colleagues to join the discussion.

Take Thinqi for example. Thinqi is xAPI compliant and complete with an inbuilt learner record store. This means it can capture learning in a variety of guises and is perfectly set up to support the capture of collaborative learning. What’s more, by providing those all-important collaboration and discussion spaces, we are able to incorporate everyday conversation into the LMS – a vast majority of which is valuable learning material. What does this mean for your organisation?

Firstly, your employees are collaborating and sharing ideas in a way that boosts performance in a cost-effective way. Secondly, your employees have a single place to go to access their formal, informal and collaborative learning – regardless of where they are and when they log in.

In Summary…

A successful organisation is one that communicates well. Reward any instances of collaborative working and make it part of your company culture – only then will your employees be more inclined to look to others rather than push through tasks alone in a blinkered manner.

Your organisation may use a range of practices depending on your industry or project, but regardless of how you enable it, collaborative working will strengthen the process and end product – and help your organisation reach peak performance.

Performance is a team effort.

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge modern learning platform can help you maximise performance through collaborative learning, we've got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

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