How to make workplace collaboration succeed
Ah…workplace collaboration… the Holy Grail, the Silver Bullet, the Bullseye to make your company successful and your people blissfully happy to come to work every day and lead productive lives!
If only it were so simple…
The fact is, that there is no magic elixir for workplace collaboration. However, companies are faced with the prospect of choosing between the red pill – the real truth behind what it takes to land a successful collaborative way of working, or the blue – the blissful ignorance or illusion that can be created by standing behind a new glittery enterprise platform. The latter leading to a success rate as low as 10% (Gartner).
Like most ingenious things in life, the answers are in fact simple, which is why they are often overlooked. The answers lie with the people in your organisation.
Ask your people what they think
A recurring theme in why workplace collaboration programmes fail is due to the fact that the people are simply not consulted. Not consulted in the process to identify “the problem” that is being tackled or the in the launch of the “solution”.
When you are not consulted, it feels like something is being done to you against your will. People need to feel they are a part of the solution and that they “are on the journey” with you.
A big element of collaboration is the social aspect and that can feel like organised fun if the people aren’t brought along for the ride. It’s like that feeling you get when you go in for the handshake and the other person goes for the hug, or when someone in a shop asks you for help and you have to clumsily explain that you don’t work there. It’s awkward, it’s gangly and nobody wants to be there afterwards.
Talking to your people, understanding them, the challenges they face and their cultural environment is vital in getting it right. Not only does it help you pitch what you are doing to them in the right way and garner adoption, it will help you identify the right kit to do the job.
SoftChoice surveyed 250 IT managers and 750 business end users to find the impact of collaboration roll outs within organisations and found:
- 77% of people were not consulted as part of the roll out
- 71% of employees say they only use half of the features available
- Employees are 18% more likely to feel the tools make them productive if they are consulted
- Employees are 23% more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs if they are consulted
- 26% more likely to feel they have been given the tools to do their jobs if they are consulted
Isn’t it funny how these programmes are trying to create collaboration and communication and it’s a big area we often forget in the process? But 96% execs admit that ineffective communication is the reason for workplace failures (eConsultancy). As Pink Floyd said “all we need to do is make sure we keep talking”.
Give your people what they have asked for
Over and above feeling like they weren’t consulted, employees often feel that they haven’t been given the correct tools. The main reasons why employees say they will use a tool are (SoftChoice):
- It makes them more productive
- It’s easy to use
- It has multiple uses in 1 tool
- It’s mobile friendly
- It’s available everywhere
That is the requirements checklist for the technical tools right there. Getting the people involved in the selection process is priceless.
Why employees won’t use it (SoftChoice):
- It doesn’t work properly – 4 out of 5 IT managers say 25% of support requests are faults
- It doesn’t make me productive – 71% of employees say they use half of the collaboration tool features
- They already have lots of tools – 38% of employees say they have access to tools they have no idea how to use
- 1/3 of employees say they have never received training. Of those that are trained, half say it’s less than 30 minutes
The last 3 points speak volumes. People are overwhelmed at the sheer volume of tools available (that they may not need or have asked for), that using existing tools and their features is hard enough without adding more into the mix.
There are 3 golden rules for a successful rollout:
- Consult the people
- Communicate to the people
- Educate the people
44% of IT leaders say it was difficult to implement a collaboration tool. A good place to start is by using their own customers to guide them by simply asking “what is it that you need?” In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice “STOP! Collaborate and listen”.