To foster collaboration, stress respect for other teams’ expertise

To break down internal silos, make sure your employees share their accrued knowledge and convey their regard for colleagues’ experience and insights.

Want to build collaboration across departments, disciplines or business units?

The first step is to raise the visibility of the work being done and the expertise of the people doing the work. For employees to value ideas contributed by someone from another discipline or with a different expertise, they first must respect what others bring to the table.

We’ve seen this connection between respect and collaboration with a couple of clients. Each of these two companies depend on innovation and bringing new ideas to market to remain competitive. Both involve manufacturing and technology. Both are incredibly impressive in the way they collaborate across silos to create better solutions for customers in their industries.

When interviewing high-level engineers at both companies, they speak with great excitement about their collaborative efforts. They heap praise on the expertise of partners from other business units or functions and stress how lucky they are to be able to work with the collaborative team they’ve formed.

How does that happen? These two companies have developed their shared admiration for differing expertise organically. If that’s not the climate at your company, you can use communications strategies and tactics to sow the seeds of respect. Consider these factors:

  • Providing visibility is the catalyst. Employees can’t respect each other’s expertise if they don’t know about each other. One vital important element of collaboration is awareness of the work being done in other areas of the organization.
  • Develop a channel or two that provide windows into other silos. There are many ways you can do this, including your intranet. We recommend creating an employee culture magazine that features the work of individuals and teams across the range of functional divisions or business units or locations.
  • A magazine can turn employees into celebrities. A feature article can explore a project or initiative in depth, quoting employees involved and sharing their successes and solutions. A spread of employee spotlights can showcase the work of multiple staffers in various areas. A roundtable article that includes managers from several departments will deliver their perspectives on topics such as innovation, team building or leadership.
  • Shining light on employees supports a culture of respect. A magazine or other channel with the same intention of showcasing the talent in your company communicates to all employees the value that each individual can bring to the organization’s success.

A culture of respect fosters collaboration.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin is CEO of Tribe. A version of this post first appeared on Tribe’s blog.

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