The mobility of employees wouldn’t be possible without collaborative tools allowing those employees to connect with coworkers anywhere, anytime. This of course means that collaboration has been a hot topic these days – organizations are promoting it, executives are fostering it, and individuals are utilizing tools to collaborate both professionally and personally.
For example, IBM has been focused on effective collaboration for many years now, even before the advent of Facebook and LinkedIn (if you can imagine). It started with a “profile” for every employee, complete with a picture, contact information, skills, interests, and recent assignments. From there, it grew to include sharing files, favorite bookmarks, blogs, wikis, and activity management. Each person’s entries are linked back to that person, so you can follow or keep current on what any of your colleagues are working on.
Tools like this have allowed our organization to become interconnected – perhaps even smarter, by leveraging experts in each field to create a better solution. There are many tools out there that organizations can use to foster a collaborative environment among their employees. But providing the tool is only the first step, you also have to create the environment and for that I’d like to share a few suggestions for enhancing and promoting collaboration in your organization and your network:
1. Build trust. Collaboration is built on relationships, and relationships are built on trust. Get to know someone new or take an acquaintance to coffee. Don’t skip out on relationship building just because that relationship may be virtual.
2. Reach out to others for additional perspective. You might be surprised about the talents and interests of some of your colleagues. Learn what people are passionate about and engage their skills in those areas. Ask for advice – people have so many hidden talents. Those talents, the ones that you wouldn’t know about from their day to day work, in addition to their job skills, may prove to be very helpful to something you are working on.
3. Offer to help. If someone is working on something that interests you, ask to help or be involved. Most people would welcome the help, and you can build trust and generate more ideas. When the time comes and you need assistance, that person will be much more likely to help you.
So while collaborative tools have launched a mobile workforce, they are truly only one small part of the big collaboration picture. Just as office dynamics hinge on the quality of relationships of the individuals within it, collaborative networks and their results are also dependent on the trust and cooperation of its members. So get out there and get connected!
This post was written by: Martha Gibson, IBM Senior Managing Consultant