Guide To Achieving Excellence Through Collaboration And Culture Change
The fact that the only constant thing in life is change is one fact that is undeniable. Over the years, globalization has changed a lot of things in the business world and the rate at which it is developing is faster than can be explained. The need for sustainable leadership is also another important aspect of the constant change that we can’t afford to ignore. This is where this guide comes in handy as it will highlight some of the major forces that shape the new world of work.
To achieve change and excellence, it’s important you keep your word, meet the teams needs and communicate with them. It’s also vital that you discover innovative and interdisciplinary methods to capture the creation of knowledge, promote creativity and experience the social impacts that can be effected by innovation!
Our discussion in this guide will revolve round fostering collaboration in the workplace with the use of basic tactics.
You will learn how to get your team members to appreciate shared values, understand what their roles entail inside and outside the organization and also how to utilize People Operations in the organization to drive performance and ultimately, profit.
A summary of the state of major forces in business today
The resultant effect of the growth of technology as the twentieth century came to an end was that innovation and change became Siamese twins. The evolution of different technologies resulted in constant change and this increased the standard for global economics as well. Due to this, leaders of organizations had to take decisions fast in a changing environment. The fact that making decisions in chaotic environments can be disastrous, put leaders in the proverbial position of being between the devil and the deep red sea.
It is at this point that we should take a pause and examine the conditions needed for an innovative culture change and that’s why I will be emphasizing on the need for trust and collaboration in the quest for modernization. In addition to this, I will also be discussing the different ways to achieve excellence in a different organizational setting.
Lots of studies has been conducted on behavior in organizations especially for the purpose of conflict resolution and different aspects of development and we cannot ignore the fact that some of these studies share, but one thing that makes our view different is the fact that for success to be achieved in the twenty-first century, a thorough examination of the factors need to be considered outside the box of ‘improvements’. In order for organizations to sustain innovation and lead in highly competitive business sectors, there is need to be more proactive rather than reactive about innovative change.
What is going wrong today?
Generally, the problem is the resistance to change and this is due to a failure on the part of the organization to orientate the teams affected by the desired change. Values alignment is not just an essential part of change in an organization, it is the crux of all changes. It is a process that enables individuals to effectively determine, converse, and enthusiastically support the values that will help the organization make desired changes.
In all, this process makes it possible for an alliance between personal and organizational values, which will in turn enable the company to develop and continue being sustainable.
Achieving organizational excellence through collaboration
Definition of collaboration
One of the important stages before there can be a collaboration is to develop trust and of course, trust does not come on a platter of gold.
In order to get members of your workforce to trust each other, they must first of all, know each other. The process of getting to know each other, is called ‘social interaction’. A divide in teams can be bridged if organizations encourage social interactions and put in place a conducive environment for such interactions to take place. This will pave the path for adequate collaboration, which will enable development in any establishment.
Isn’t it funny how much the little things count? It’s the little things that actually makes the world go round. To build lasting relationships in the workplace and between external contributors, collaboration is a very significant factor and this is further supported by the Office of Human Resources at The National Institute of Health which has listed the benefits of collaboration as:
The key to effective and efficient collaboration is unrestricted distribution of knowledge.
The phrase, ‘survival of the fittest’ is often used as an excuse to justify the competitive nature of the office that has each team member working for his/her own promotion –> instead of working together as a team for the success of the organization. The People Ops team must make sure not to encourage activities that will create animosity, unhealthy rivalry and overall, affect the productivity of the employees!
Networking and the incorporation of different companies through a value network will be the major focus in issues relating to the current workforce and this idea of a collaborative partnership between companies can only be made possible –> if there is established a single set of common standards. A functional system will also need to be in place to provide an adequate explanation of these standards and how they will be utilized.
The system will help in creating value and novel business models. It will also help start-ups and small businesses develop and provide downstream service while addressing and solving some of the issues facing the world today such as demographic changes. It will provide a system where demographic change and societal factors are taken into consideration in the organization of businesses as employees will be enabled to focus on activities that are creative and add value.
It is true that there needs to be a middle ground between the advantages of collaborative efforts and its disadvantages and there are several factors that are vital to creating this balance. One fact that cannot be pushed aside, is the fact that collaborative activities has a key role to play in raising awareness about the nature and appeal of collaborative activity.
Examples of collaboration are:
The classic phrase of having square pegs in round holes in a company is such that can lead to unhealthy rivalry and competition in the office. It leads to poor collaboration among team members and generally, to a frustration of operations in the organization.
Advantages of collaboration in the workplace include;
Recognizing talents and types as a medium to improve productivity
To achieve high productivity and great maximization of the skills of teams, the business should aid each and every employee in recognizing other talents and skill they might possess.
Employees can easily take up responsibility and feel accountable for the growth of the company if they are placed in a position where they can work best; their ideal position. Placing employees in their ideal position has a way of changing their attitude and outlook for the better. The round pegs can finally stay in round holes.
Team members who have leadership abilities but have become frustrated because they are constantly being given ‘follower’ positions will finally have the responsibility they so crave for – while those who prefer following orders will get to stay where they want instead of being forced into supervisory positions.
Meanwhile, for those with creative abilities, their creativity should be put to use in every idea generating meeting, the effect of this is that the company will gain more as the employees will be in charge of developing all the ideas in a way that will suit the overall policy of the company.
It’s true that profiling of employees goes a long way in determining where each person will function best, however, care must be taken not to limit the functionality. There are team members that are the true definition of all-rounders and can fit into any position and handle any task (I’m sure you can think of one or two in your organization already.) but one thing that’s certain is that no one is one sided, every human being has different sides to them. Some employees will rather direct a small team than handle the entire department. At the end of the day, it’s better to allow employees to discover their own attributes by tapping into their self-awareness.
Towards a Culture of Learning
It is essential to create a culture of learning in the workplace. Every member of the workforce needs to understand the values relating to the business, its overall direction, how to develop themselves on all fronts and also how to do their best in making the entire workforce more productive.
Achieving Excellence Through Culture
I’m sure the next question on our mind is; how do we create a company culture?
It’s best we look into the why first.
A Booz and Company study revealed that 96% of employees thought that cultural change was needed in their workplace. An IBM study found that CEO’s were equally anxious to make changes, recognizing that power resides in an open and collaborative company culture. All these studies point to the alarming type of workplace culture that is present in today’s workforce.
The type of scenario that all companies crave for is that their internal culture maps perfectly to their external brand. The issue when it comes to company culture is that the companies prescribe a set of values and expect everyone to embrace it. The flip-side to this expectation, is that individuals are not like robots that are easy to manage, there will always be some conflict and resistance!
Misunderstanding Culture: categorization vs evolution
Change is constant and this is applicable to workplace culture as well. This is why one of the obstacles of having a successful integration of workplace culture is the idea that the culture is something fixed and unchangeable. Culture has been compared to seashells on a beach by early anthropologists but the anthropologist Clifford Geerts challenged this view, saying:
Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs.
However, this view by Geerts has also been challenged by present-day philosophers who argue that meaning is not ‘out there‘ but that it develops from the continuous interaction between people and their environment. This latter view is now the widely accepted one; the view that culture comes in place as a result of the encounters between people and the environment.
This means that the change that happens through individuals is what actually affects the environment. A perfect example of the above principle can be seen in the context of the global economy with the adoption of management techniques once thought of as ‘Japanese’ into ‘western’ corporations.
Employee Behavior and Corporate Culture
The importance of having a company culture in place cannot be over-emphasized as it sets the tone for the behavior of employees in the company. Creating the culture of your company is a very critical mission which can either make or mar the workforce of your organization. The real work comes when you have to change a culture that is already in place.
The first thing to do when re-branding your culture is to cultivate a plan. If you intend to completely change your brand’s visual identity (your company logo, website look, etc.) know that it would take a lot of time. If you are too fast in effecting change, it might be difficult for your customers to recognize your brand! You just have to be tactical about the changes you make. If what you want to change is the image of the company to the public, then be prepared to do thorough research work.
It’s not as easy too to change your company’s work ethics as some employees might feel adversely against it and that’s why it’s necessary to be attentive to how the changes affect each team. You might be forced to change some of your organization’s values but always make sure there are foundational values that you cannot change. These values will determine the way you relate with your team and your clients.
The Society for Human Resource Management’s Culture Study stated that “Companies with strong, formally articulated values that are focused on the needs of their constituencies have an important advantage over those without such values.” The report used American Express as a case study and it went on to say that the credit card company has “developed a strong sense of itself and what it stands for, [with] core values that have become an invaluable asset.” This approach is what every organization should strive for- creating a solid and evident identity that can stand the test of time.
Fostering a Collaborative Culture
About 250 years ago, the term, ‘culture’ was invented to describe the way of life of a group of people, but now that term has grown to the extent that it is used to describe corporations (e.g. company culture). Amalgamating individual cultures into a company culture.
In order to properly integrate team members into the company’s broader value system, the leaders of the company need to take into account every individual’s history and how they got to the present position they are! The best thing a global company can do to create a value system is to be inclusive.
The following are steps that should be taken to establish a corporate culture.
Using social networks as a means of fostering a collaborative culture is a necessary ingredient in this strategy of developing maximum transparency and collaboration. Employees are able to participate in collaborative innovation processes through the use of such networks.
One of the issues that comes with globalization is the fact that the workforce comprise of employees with varying religious, national and generational cultures and it is often difficult (yet possible!) to create a global company culture from such a mix.
Behind every manager is a system of leadership assessment that if working properly is used to reward excellent practice and sort out areas of deficiency.
Most leadership assessment programs are often condemned for not looking at the effect the senior staff members have on the employees –> they work with instead with a cliche routine of employees being evaluated based on what managers think is the standard, this is changing with technology 🙂
The cultural personality of an organization will to a large extent determine the way it will carry out its transactions both internally and externally. For a successful development of the company, it is important that the culture of the company is understood by both the employer and the employees. Some of the ways by which this can be achieved include:
The Barrett Values Center has stated that culture operates at three levels – the individual, the social and the organizational. In terms and values, relationships and networks –> they form the underlying purpose and meaning behind decision-making. In order to change the cultural identity of a business, People Operations must revamp every aspect of this.
Keeping this in mind, People Operations must first change the values of individual team members before it can change the corporate culture of the organization itself. When recruiting as well, the values of candidates should be considered to see if it is in tandem with the value system of the company. For instance, a ‘green’ organization should hire a person who believes in sustainable environment, while an oil company should employ those who can vocally promote its process.
For employees to sell the company culture to clients, they must first believe in it and believing in it can only come when they are satisfied with their jobs and when they have a good rapport with all the company. It is after this has been achieved that People Operations can take a step further and focus on the relationships within the organization. It is advisable to put diverse employees who like working together in the same team, as this will help to reduce conflicts and increase productivity.
Due to the influence of technology, organizations have to present themselves as people-centered and must always take great care to interact well with their clients/customers and also have a creative public identity.
A study into sustaining culture change by Hay Group states that “one of the biggest challenges in most organizations is that leadership behaviors, management systems and organizational symbols send conflicting messages to employees.” The study further reiterates the already known fact that the leaders; those in managerial and executive positions have to actually lead by example. If they can exemplify the values of the company through their conduct, they will be able to also influence the rest of the workforce.
The Hay Group’s report goes on to name senior executives as the “champions of culture,” (doesn’t it remind us a bit about the Knights of the Round Table). The changes that we all clamor for at the organization will first start with the executive and then trickle down to the rest of the teams. It is only then can we have a real change in culture.
Mapping the Future
Defining organizational excellence is an arduous task, excellence can be defined in various ways and some of the elements of this include profitability, market share, customer/employee satisfaction, product innovation and so on. Another perspective is to see it as the successful integration of technology, infrastructure, and staff. Organizational excellence is a concept that is usually sought by leaders but rarely found. It is however a result of transitional and transformational activities.
Let’s look into the various components of the term, ‘organizational excellence’.
The first word, ‘organization’ means an assembly of persons that come together under a defined leadership to work together as a distinct entity for a particular purpose while the second word, ‘excellence’ is a measure of unswerving superior performance that surpasses requirements and expectations without demonstrating significant flaws or waste. It builds on the foundation of quality management established by the organization and makes sure all levels of the organization is actively involved in the development process.
In achieving the desired excellence in an organization, there should be a target for every level of achievement.
Employees and stakeholders will be more disposed to the necessary change if they understand that the goal is not perfection, but rather a growth in every aspect. Each team member should be recognized for the level of success they have attained in the course of the training and at different levels of it.
Managing Organisational Excellence
The traits and attributes of organizational excellence includes and is not limited to:
Various views have stated that the traits common to organizational excellence can be found across several cultures and nations across the world. A lot of the work is actually based on gaining adequate commitment to embrace the positive changes and applying it in the above areas. The change needs to be properly managed and this can only be achieved by communicating the change to the affected teams and this is why collaboration is important.
Empowering People to Innovate
Collaboration by teams is not meant to save costs, in fact, new firm-level analysis reveals that businesses that collaborate on innovation spend more on innovation than those that do not. This supports our stand that collaboration is used by companies to improve their efficiency level rather than cut down on costs.
Innovative Workplace and its skills innovation
One of the things that bring about growth in a company is how well the skills and talents of its workforce are being tapped into and utilized. The abilities to produce innovations in a company should be promoted as the workplace is a fertile ground to strengthen skills and be more innovative. Innovation can come in different ways. It can be from the idea of an individual or the ideas of members of a team, the fact still remains that much more result is gotten from collaborative effort.
Fostering collaboration to produce the best results?
Innovation, Creativity and Fairness
“Innovation is critical for competitive advantage and creativity is essential to successful innovation” - Stafford
One of the aftermaths of the pandemic, the best thing the company can do is promote creativity and innovation among its workforce so that it can continue to witness tremendous growth and progress.
Creativity has a lot to do with the excellence and progress of any organization and that’s why large companies such as Amazon pay a lot of attention to creativity and innovation. In most corporations, they realize the importance of creativity to their overall output, profit and ultimately success and that’s why they leave no stone upturned in their efforts to create a good atmosphere for creativity among their workforce. The fact is that modern technology has removed some of the creativity of individuals –> but business needs to keep in mind the importance of ideas and create a conducive environment for it as this will give the company an edge over its competitors.
Another essential factor is ‘fairness’. If an employee feels he/she is not being treated fairly enough, it might create room for conflict, resentment and irritation. To avoid all these negative issues in the company, management should put in place a set of minimum standards that are in compliance with the country’s labor laws. Fairness at work goes a long way in making individuals feel important and appreciated – that’s why it should be taken very seriously.
If you ask me, I feel factors such as creativity, commitment, flexibility and fairness are of key significance within the People Operations framework in an organization but I do not agree with all the factors especially the part about flexibility. Not all flexible work arrangements are appropriate for all people or all jobs!
I also feel that as much as we all encourage creativity and excellence, they might not go hand in hand, as fairness might diminish the creative tendencies of the workforce.
Building a HIGH-PERFORMANCE Culture to Drive Innovation in the Global Workplace
The effect of the workforce on the success of the business is much more pronounced now than ever and in order to excel, you must promote and inspire your workforce to be at their best in order to give room for creativity and novelty within your organization. The first thing to do in order to achieve this is to note who the team players and leaders are.
Form your teams
- It is very important that you are tactical in picking teams to delegate tasks and projects to allow for a high performance work culture. Pick your team in such a way that it cuts across different generations, values and ethics. In this way, they can learn from each other about management skills, execution tactics and so on and also complement each other’s strength so that they deliver effectively. You as the leader should also encourage all the teams and not incite them against each other. Instead, you should support every team and keep track of their progress.
Provide consistent assessments
- Whenever the word, ‘assessment’ comes up, we tend to think it applies to every member of the workforce except the executives and those in management and this should not be. It is applicable to them as well. It helps to encourage improvement in the performance of every member of the workforce and kill every spirit of mediocrity. The fact that you know that you will be assessed on what you do – keeps an individual on his/her toes. In doing this, applaud your talent for what they are doing well and encourage them.
- “Get on a plane and get in the game.” The above is a catchy phrase from Forbes, you have to connect on the international scene as well if you want to drive high performance in a today’s global market, you need to compete on an international scale. Forbes writer Glen Llopis, stresses the value of learning globally, urging business leaders to join your local Rotary Club or any other organization that will bring connections for them on the international scene.
Don’t tolerate conflict
- ““Leaders do not tolerate players who pull the team apart.” This was stated in the technique handbook of Linkage Inc., a leadership development organization.Linkage goes on to say that “leaders who get teams to click, project confidence. They do this by preparing their conversations and not backing away from, or skimming over real issues and problems, even difficult or confrontational ones.” It is advisable to prepare the leaders of your team to be able to manage conflict among their team members. This will show the rest of the team that conflict will not be tolerated and that instead of wasting time on conflicts, they would rather be encouraged to spend time on improving their performance.
A high performance workplace is crucial in today’s new era of business. Failing to influence this among your talent base is not only detrimental to the organization, it is detrimental to their own personal growth and career progression. The global marketplace is allowing us to go further than we ever have before, so make sure your company is ready.
How can all these skills be brought together in the ideal modern workplace?
It’s not an easy task designing a modern workspace, but it is achievable –> through proper planning and using of new strategies, People Operations can implement change within the organization and utilize the skills of the workforce to the maximum to push for the progress of the organization.
Your collaboration culture should embody the ideals and attitudes of that business.
It suffices to say that a company with the right culture will have maximum growth and development.
Steps in building a company culture
You need to ascertain what culture you want to showcase to your workforce and to your clients as well. It’s also a very crucial step because your company culture will affect the outlook of the company and generally how the world perceives you.
In building a company culture, the effect of your employees cannot be overemphasized. The work environment has to be conducive and this can only happen when your employees feel comfortable around you and the work they do. Build a strong relationship with your employees, ensure everyone has a sense of belonging.
The fact that they see you as a great employer will make things move easier in the company – which in turn will lead to higher productivity. As well, have a definite intention and purpose for the company culture.
If everyone in the company, understands the importance of the culture to the company and how it will help them achieve their goal, then it will be easier for team members to feel more valued and embrace the whole concept. You should make sure it has a ‘physical part’ to it as well, something everyone can see and feel.
For instance, making your (remote) workplace appealing and more enjoyable to work in will make your workers feel much more comfortable. This will go a long way in showing that the type of culture the company promotes is one of unity and togetherness, instead of division and separate.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what you want but you have to keep in mind that your decision could either make or mark the company as the difference between a progressive and retrogressive company is the culture.
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