Business collaboration empowers employees

  • Online networking improves collaboration thus boosting individual contributions.
  • Collaboration increases individual success and boost creativity.

When organizations employ people, they are interviewed as individuals. They may be evaluated on their ability or willingness to build a team, lead a team or be part of a team, but it’s the individual who is being judged. Are organizations able to fully support enterprising individuals?

Recognizing the importance of the individual using collaboration

Collaboration is key, but individuals have to share the same stage. The May 2006 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly points out that complex problem solving requires an exchange of information and shared judgments between colleagues, customers and suppliers. But, the consultancy argues that organizations that make the workers most responsible for those activities will build talent-based competitive advantages that rivals will find hard to match.

collaboration gears

The good news is that the rise of the individual is being supported by an upsurge in forums, social networking software, microblogs, and even employee-generated videos.

In, “Collaboration Frontiers: An Integrated Experience,” a 2013 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of AT&T, researchers found growing interest in social media, with 50 percent of respondents planning to implement or expand participation in discussion forums, 39 percent blogs and wikis, and 36 percent social networking software. Looking at specific collaborative activities, 64 percent of respondents were using social tools to foster collaboration, 62 percent to capture, share or re-use knowledge, and 50 percent to create communities of interest.

In the 2011 study, “The Digital Workplace: Think, Share, Do. 2011,” Deloitte comments that today’s always connected, instant access environment has blurred the lines between the physical office and the place where work actually happens. As the distinction between professional and personal life dissolves, and the workplace becomes truly digital, employees are communicating and collaborating in unprecedented ways. The traditional “create and push” information approach no longer meets employees’ evolving needs.

The same approach is often applied to employee learning as companies rarely think about employees as a viable source for creating learning content, and if they do, they are uncertain how to capture this learning. Informal learning — such as conversations about a winning sales approach or solutions to a particular challenge or best practices around implementation – appears to represents up to 80 percent of employee learning at work. Some studies suggest that only 20 percent of learning comes from the formal approach that most people envision when they think about corporate learning.

Collaboration yields contribution

One of the major barriers to effective business collaboration is the conflicting needs and priorities of the team and individual departments, according to training consultancy DS Performance Group. Departmental managers have their own targets to meet and may be reluctant to release key staff for external projects. Departmental heads need to recognize the importance and benefits of collaboration.

While it’s essential that opportunity is balanced against risk, this body of research suggests that organizations are adding weight to the opportunity to increase the empowerment of individuals for corporate advantage.

Collaboration can improve employee satisfaction and retention by giving people more scope to contribute, providing them with easier access to information or boosting their personal productivity and improving work-life balance.

Find more information on collaboration solutions at AT&T unified communications.

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