4 Ways to Bring a Collaborative Culture to your Small Business

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4 ways to bring collaborative culture to your small business | As small businesses take measures to protect their employees against the effects of a not-so-new normal, many are missing the mark on one key area: collaboration. 

While small business owners may not be facing challenges at the same scale as large corporations, the call is louder than ever for them to build a solid culture rooted in collaboration.

In this blog, we’ll explore what makes collaborative culture a binding ingredient for small businesses and provide you with 4 pillars for success.

What is company culture and how does collaboration play a role?

Company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees, as well as the way people interact with each other, values, decisions, working environment, and more.

An emphasis on collaboration amongst team members can be a strong component of company culture and success. Collaboration is the act of two or more people working together to achieve a shared goal. For a small business, this could look like designing a new email marketing campaign or coordinating deliveries with a vendor. 

Without collaboration, it’s pretty difficult for a business to thrive in the long-term, and the proof is in the pudding. In a 2017 Stanford study, it was found that even the perception of collaborating on a task instead of a solitary manner can boost performance, engage team members and reduce fatigue. 

How can you establish a culture of collaboration?

Rome wasn’t built in a day…and you know the rest. Let’s explore a few basic pillars that can put your business on track to building a collaborative culture.

Pillar #1: Make meetings productive and engaging with clear goals

Especially with small teams, the business owner or manager might lead a general state of the union meeting or a daily rundown of expectations for that day or week. These meetings are actually a great opportunity to encourage collaboration from the get go. 

If the meeting leader considers “What am I looking for as a result of this meeting— feedback, consensus, etc.?”, it accomplishes two things: 1) It forces the leader to recognize the team’s value in whatever the project or goal is and 2) team members feel empowered and expected to contribute to an outcome.

Pillar #2: Ensure everyone is on the same page

Instilling or improving your business’ culture to be more collaborative is not done as a one-off announcement via email or Slack; it should start as a decision made across leadership, including management. Why? and how? are excellent conversation starters. 

Next, you’ll need to implement engaging ways for employees to interact with the new policies and practices around the shift, whether it’s a one-pager or a Q&A lunch. Without their buy-in, it will be a rough road ahead.

Pillar #3: Champion transparency

Throughout your shift to a collaborative culture, it is important to act with transparency, confidence, and honesty. Owners and managers are the frontline ambassadors for change and should act as such.

Sharing high-level goals and championing progress regularly helps keep everyone engaged, too. Performance evaluations will make progress meaningful and based in fact, not just assumptions.

Pillar #4: Choose software with your needs in mind

Any software can make or break all of the work you’ve done to shape collaborative workplace culture. Choose a product that facilitates your goals of transparency, accountability, and well, collaboration!

While there is a buffet of project and task management platforms out there, they can be pretty static. Working with a Work OS like monday.com can be invaluable because it is built to help teams share knowledge, collaborate and reach shared goals. With features like mentions and file sharing, it’s easy to update external vendors and partners in real-time.

It also helps employees and managers actually see progress, roadblocks, and more easily with intuitive task boards. Not to mention how well it integrates with so many other apps and has hundreds of templates to get teams started right away.

How can small businesses get big benefits from collaboration?

Regardless if you are Coca-Cola or Rick’s Hardware on 5th Street, collaboration needs to be embodied in everything you do. Whether it’s managing the process for completing online orders for 50 cookie baskets or managing healthcare registration for 500 employees, collaboration amongst team members will ensure that each step of the process is managed efficiently and systematically.

Let’s take a look at three benefits:

  • Freedom to outsource

Adopting a collaborative mindset means that you both value working with the various talents in your team and that you understand the potential in partnering with external vendors who are masters of the skills your team may lack. 

Outsourcing is not only cost-effective, but it’s easier than ever to manage relationships and requests with external vendors with platforms like monday.com, which let you keep internal data like budgets and client lists private, but give full access to dashboards and order requests. 

  • Productivity boosted!

According to a 2019 study by Deloitte, 53% of companies who made the “switch” to collaborate more between teams saw a significant, positive difference in their performance. 

It is equally important within teams to using collaborative communication and workflows so individuals have access to what they need in order to drive projects forward. For example, a boutique’s floor manager can better plan her display update schedules if she has real-time access to the clothing buyer’s purchase cycle and sales orders. 

  • Increased workplace morale and customer satisfaction

Collaborative principles can spark not only better-distributed and efficient work but a powerful sense of ownership for employees. 

This in turn leads to better quality customer service and hopefully, both the retention and acquisition of customers who are pleased by their interaction with your business! 

Positioning your business to have a true culture of collaboration is a big task to take on, but one with a big payoff. It’s important to not bite off more than you can chew, but to start taking the steps to create, communicate, and continually engage all stakeholders with the change.

Open, goal-driven conversations and tools that allow your teams to work together will set your business up for increased productivity, ownership, and sweet success.