Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working with some tremendous leaders.
Along the way I have noticed that they all have one particular character trait in common: They know how to bring people together and lead them forward to accomplish audacious goals. They place a premium on collaboration and go out of their way to develop cultures where partnership means more than individual achievement.
In today’s workplace businesses need to place a premium on silo-busters, especially as teams forge ahead in fast-paced, competitive industries and global marketplaces.
So how do you create a workplace of silo-busters?
Here are four ways any company can promote an environment of silo busting, wall smashing, and world-class collaborators.
Companies can promote a culture of collaboration through the strategic placement of teams and individuals. At Porch.com we have an open office environment where there are no offices or cubicles. This makes it easy for us to communicate since the people you need to partner with day in and day out are likely sitting across from you. If not, at the very least it is easy to see where people sit and impromptu conversations are an easy and frequent occurrence.
But, not everyone can have an open office environment. In such cases companies should consider placing teams in close proximity. Identify the people that need to be working close together and make the distance between them as short as possible. Whatever you can do to bring people closer–in the physical sense–is an easy way to promote collaboration.
Many companies set business goals and individual commitments. Whether they are monitored and tracked on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis, employees should know what they are working on and how their performance will be measured. In many cases more than one person is responsible for something that ladders up to a broader business goal, but they approach it from different sides of the business.
Instead of making the primary goal a set of individual outcomes, companies should highlight and celebrate shared goals–the things that are only possible when people reach across the aisle and work together. These shared goals should be treated with as much attention as individual goals and should be made visible in the office so people can see where their joint stakeholders exist. When a great accomplishment happens, all participants should be celebrated as a group.
Mentorship is important, especially since the role of cross-company mentorship is to foster and support a culture of empathy. Empathy is the secret weapon for any company as it drives efficiency through the optimization of shared resources and places an emphasis on what others need to be successful.
In addition to encouraging mentorship, companies should be promoting a culture of internal networks. Adam Pisoni, the CTO and cofounder of Yammer, has pioneered the responsive organization movement, which emphasizes the importance of internal networks to help companies learn and respond rapidly to issues by optimizing for the open flow of information between employees and customers. One of the best things a company can do is get people talking. The tools and principles set forth by the responsive organization is a great place to start.
A company should make sure their employees feel comfortable asking questions so they consistently have what they need to perform at their highest levels. They should never be without crucial information because they don’t know where to go, who to ask, or are worried their inquiries will be shut down and not taken seriously.
Questions spur creativity and get people talking about how to tackle problems in new and different ways. Cultures that are built around defensive territorial behaviors are not built to last. Cultures that promote and embrace intellectual curiosity across the business are sure to grow and thrive.
—Asha Sharma is the chief marketing officer of Porch.com. In this role Asha is responsible for marketing, communications, growth, sales, revenue operations, and customer support. Asha’s responsibility spans brand, revenue and resource allocation.