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Four Steps to Building a Company Culture that Promotes Collaboration

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This post was updated in February 2020

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock over the last decade or so, you’ve probably heard of business guru and entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. When it comes to running a business, Musk does pretty much everything right. He’s one of the most successful people in the world, so I make a point to take whatever he has to say about running a business pretty seriously. I certainly don’t run my own business, but my job is to be a thought leader in the business and HR world, so I jump at any information I can pass along to my readers that will help them run their business. 

Musk is a big proponent of transparency within a business. Recently, an email he sent to his employees at Tesla, Inc was published on that demonstrates his firm belief that communication within any business must flow unobstructed from top to bottom and front to back. So often even those companies that claim to be all about transparency and communication end up with red tape that has to be navigated when working interdepartmentally. If true success with this notion is to be achieved, there are a number of steps you can take in order to streamline communication within your business that will help your departments collaborate together instead of working against one another.

1) Take a Step Back

Sometimes, leaders within an organization can be so involved that they are unable to look at the big picture. This can make it difficult to make objective decisions about how the company should run. Taking a step back is the best way for leaders to understand what aspects of their company are lacking and where improvements can be made with communication and team collaboration. 

If somebody within your business development department has received feedback about your product, what are the steps she has to take in order to get that feedback to your product engineers? Is there a lot of red tape that prevents ideas, suggestions, and feedback from getting to the right people? Looking at the big picture of the organization will allow leaders to create a smooth flow of information, idea-building, and general teamwork between departments and improve your general company collaboration.



2) Encourage ALL Feedback

It’s easy to request feedback from employees, but another thing altogether to receive dissenting opinions and actually consider where they’re coming from. No positive change has ever occurred from doing something the same way every time. You can get some really great ideas by opening up your company’s mindset to hear different viewpoints. Too often businesses get stuck running their processes because that’s “how it’s always been done” and this can be hugely detrimental to their success. The best way to overcome this is by asking for feedback and rewarding employees who provide authentic criticisms or ideas, whether or not you agree with them.

3) Take Your Employees Seriously

Now, depending on how large your company is, you probably can’t expect to personally deal with every problem your employees have. However, your company should be set up as such that every employee’s problem is dealt with seriously and with empathy. 

It should be the job of your managers and supervisors to address problems and assist employees in finding solutions. This doesn’t mean they micromanage employees or do all the work for them. They simply address issues head on and encourage employees to find the solutions on their own. When employees can feel comfortable coming to their supervisors or managers with problems, communication and transparency within the business will improve drastically.

4) Promote Growth

The fourth and final step you can make to build a company culture that promotes collaboration and teamwork is to create an environment that encourages growth for its employees. Support for all employees, ranging from part-time workers to full on managers, should start at the top and trickle down. 

Unfortunately, this kind of support will also mean losing great employees to other companies. However, it’s better to support your employees in all their endeavors and lose the occasional gem than it is to make employees feel guilty any time one leaves to move on to a different company. Every employee should feel the support from his or her superiors to be ambitious and move up in the ranks. It’s never easy to lose a quality employee from one team to another, but at the end of the day, that employee will be her best self in a department where her strengths can be utilized to their full ability. After all, you are all one team in the end.

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