Managing by Building Relationships: The Key to Collaboration

Our networked lifestyle, where boundaries between workplace and home are hard to maintain or have vanished altogether, is impacting an organization’s ability to uphold collaborative and effective work environments. What can we do to strengthen an organization’s “collaborative capital” and expand its “collaborative intelligence”?

First, we can make it a priority, a value-add to the organization, and consciously develop collaboration as a core component of the organization’s culture. Collaboration is fueled by various degrees and forms of social interaction and community-building.

Second, work processes begin with viewing the organization not as a machine, but as a dynamic, complex social system. This entails leaders shifting the focus from tasks to people, from getting the job done to developing high-performing work relationships.

Third, the organization’s or unit’s way of self-organizing (including its structure, culture, human resources, management approaches, forms of communication, networking processes, and politics) must support collaboration in the manner sought by the leaders, teams, and others. The company must assess both its organizational and workplace “readiness,” and add a development process, if needed.

Finally, taking into account the organization’s goals and employees’ situations, the organization must establish reasonable job expectations and work demands, as well as identify and implement healthy work-life standards.

To work together effectively despite complex competing demands, having the time and opportunity to get to know each other and develop professionally must be values of the organizational culture.