When asked about the importance of various characteristics of the employee experience, respondents to the Brandon Hall Group™ study, Culture Eats Strategy: Is Your Employee Experience What You Intended?, called out the culture being collaborative and supportive as the most important factor. A collaborative and supportive culture is one where individuals work together, support one another and share a common goal. This type of culture not only enhances productivity but also improves the pillars of a positive employee experience. There’s value, then, in exploring the benefits of a collaborative and supportive culture.
A collaborative and supportive culture has numerous benefits for organizations. Firstly, it leads to increased productivity as employees work together, leveraging their collective skills and knowledge to achieve common goals. Secondly, it improves communication by fostering an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns and feedback. This open communication leads to better understanding and collaboration among team members. Additionally, a collaborative and supportive culture enhances problem-solving abilities as diverse perspectives and ideas are encouraged, leading to innovative solutions. Moreover, such a culture promotes higher employee satisfaction, as individuals feel valued, supported and motivated to contribute their best. This, in turn, reduces turnover rates, as employees are more likely to stay in an organization that fosters a positive and supportive work environment.
Creating a collaborative and supportive culture requires deliberate efforts and a focus on key areas. Open and transparent communication is crucial, as it ensures that information flows freely and everyone is on the same page. This can be achieved by emphasizing the importance of clear and frequent communication, encouraging feedback and suggestions, and practicing active listening.
Building trust and respect among team members is another essential aspect. This can be fostered by promoting relationship-building activities, valuing diversity and different perspectives and addressing conflicts promptly and constructively. Additionally, organizations should promote a team-oriented mindset by encouraging collaboration and teamwork, recognizing and rewarding team efforts and achievements and creating a sense of belonging and inclusivity. Lastly, providing resources and support is vital for enabling collaboration and supporting employees.
While creating a collaborative and supportive culture is beneficial, it is not without its challenges. Without the effort to lay the foundation for a collaborative culture, companies are likely to experience resistance to change, a lack of trust in leadership, gaps in communication and a far more individualistic mindset. These have disastrous implications for results and profitability in any business. To overcome these challenges, organizations should ensure leadership buy-in and support, as leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone and modeling collaborative behaviors. Consistent reinforcement of values and behaviors is also essential to embed a collaborative culture. Address and resolve conflicts promptly and constructively to overcome challenges, as conflicts can hinder collaboration and trust. Lastly, encouraging continuous learning and growth helps individuals develop a growth mindset, which is essential for embracing collaboration and supporting others.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- How can we promote open and transparent communication within our organization?
- How can we encourage a team-oriented mindset and foster collaboration?
- What resources and support can we provide to enable collaboration and support our employees?
- How can we address and overcome resistance to change within our organization?
- What strategies can we implement to consistently reinforce collaborative values and behaviors?
BRANDON HALL GROUP™ POV
This type of culture development doesn’t happen on its own. It is the result of intentional focus on the part of executives. This single element consistently ranks highest among attributes that contribute to a positive employee experience. Ensuring a culture remains collaborative and supportive requires intention on the part of all involved.
Define Organizational Expectations
Building a collaborative culture begins with clearly defining organizational expectations around the work environment — what it looks like in the specific context of your company and how it plays out in daily work. Many have said that clarity is kindness. That adage holds because where there’s clarity, there can be understanding. Defining behaviors, approaches to work, tools and techniques all serve to support a team that knows how to behave in alignment with the culture you are attempting to build.
Hold Leaders Accountable
Out of clarity also comes accountability. Holding leaders accountable to behave in alignment to organizational expectations becomes critical. This doesn’t necessarily need to be punitive in nature, but empowering leaders to point out in real time when someone is acting contrary to expectations, over time, helps reinforce the intended culture. This might look like simply saying, “Hey — when you ask questions of the team but don’t wait from them to respond, it tends to shut down collaboration and that’s not how we want to lead here.”
Be Consistent and Patient
Above all, it takes time and consistency to realize results. Culture change of this nature isn’t a 0-60, one-and-done proposition. It takes simple, clear, intention and repetition over time. Organizations must be in it for the long haul to reap the true benefits. Some businesses create nominal monetary incentives for consistent achievement of culture-defining results such as NPS or other measures of customer or employee satisfaction. Peer recognition also goes a long way in supporting this work.
The employee experience is ultimately an outcome of many different factors. As such, it should be a filter on every decision being made in the business.
“How does/will this affect our employees?” is a question leaders should make standard in any decision-making effort. Maintaining a collaborative and supportive culture requires continuous effort and reinforcement. Organizations should regularly check in with employees to ensure that the culture is being upheld and address any concerns or issues that may arise.
Building a collaborative culture is important to consider because positive employee experience is directly related to positive employee engagement, which has a documented impact on discretionary effort and subsequent business performance.