Roadblocks That Hinder Collaboration Among Employees
Now that you have a solid understanding of what the roadblocks are, let's take a detailed look at each block, how it impacts work, and how to fix it:
1. Departmental Silos
Departmental silos are a huge problem that have just gotten worse with the rise of remote and hybrid work. So what exactly are departmental silos? They occur when your organization's different teams and departments don't interact or communicate with each other.
Here's an example: Let's say you just started a new sales job at a remote company. You get a month into your role and run into a problem that can't be solved within your department. You know you need to talk to someone on the marketing team, but there's just one problem — you don't know anyone on that team. Since your units have been siloed, you have to hunt down the correct person to talk to. On top of that, they may not be very receptive to helping you if they're not in the habit of interacting outside of their team.
If you want to break down these silos for healthier cross-departmental collaboration, you need to change your onboarding. Make sure you're introducing new employees to people outside of their team, starting on day one! Here are a few ideas:
Bring Multiple Departments Into The Interview Process
Often, an interviewee will only interview with people on the team they'd be joining. But by bringing in other departments for part of the interview process, the candidate will be able to connect with other groups immediately. In addition, it's an excellent time for them to learn how they could collaborate.
Create A Buddy System
When new employees join your company, enroll them in a buddy system where you pair them up with people outside their department. In this system, you could have the buddies meet biweekly to discuss what they're working on. These meetings give them visibility into other roles within the company and help them form relationships that make collaboration easier.
Set Up Recurring Meetings Between Different Departments
When something isn't on your calendar, it's easy to forget about it. By scheduling a regular meeting between departments, it quickly becomes routine for the teams and is less likely to get pushed to the back burner.
2. Poor Knowledge Management
A big element of collaboration is information sharing. We frequently share links to resources and assets to help coworkers with projects. For example, a marketer may share a one-pager they created with sales to help them close a deal.
But problems can quickly arise when it becomes hard to find the information we need at the exact time we need it. When a coworker needs something from you, but you can’t find it, it’s frustrating for both parties.
This is where knowledge management comes into play.
Knowledge management can often be an afterthought for fast-paced, fast-growing companies. However, haphazard organization leads to collaboration issues in the long run. If you want to empower your employees to do their best work, you need to make it easy for them to find and share information.
One of the best ways to improve knowledge management is to invest in the right tools! Here are a few types of tools your company can implement:
A link management tool like GoLinks can help you find and share knowledge by transforming any URL into a short, memorable go link.
Go links are excellent for collaboration because they're easy to share visually and verbally with your coworkers. And since they're intuitive and easy to remember, your coworkers can navigate back to your resources without having to ask you for the link. Say goodbye to digging through drives, mile-long bookmarks lists, and information gatekeepers.
An enterprise search tool like Elastic is like an internal Google for your company information. It lets you search through all your company knowledge while keeping it in one secure place.
A corporate wiki tool like Guru can help you organize information in one centralized place. This way, nothing gets lost. You could also use GoLinks with a corporate wiki tool to make resources even easier to find.
3. No Way To Connect On The Fly
When you're in the office, it's easy to collaborate on the fly. If you want to talk through ideas or ask for advice, all you have to do is walk over to your coworker's desk. Unfortunately, spontaneous collaboration is harder in a remote or hybrid environment where only some employees are in the office at the same time.
Some tools can help facilitate this ad-hoc collaboration virtually. Tandem, for example, is a virtual office platform that simulates the spontaneous interactions that happen naturally in an office.
When you have this platform, you can see which coworkers are online (similarly to you being able to see who's at their desk in an office), and you can send them a notification to see if they're free to collaborate. You can also use Tandem to hop in a virtual room and problem-solve in real-time if they're free.
4. Favoring Real-Time Communication
When you think of collaboration, you probably visualize a group of people working together face-to-face. However, the reality is, people are not always available at the same time, and different people are efficient at various times of the day.
For example, a coworker may be able to make outstanding contributions to your project, but they may not be available at the times you've set meetings. Even if they miss the meeting, they should still be able to collaborate asynchronously. Rather than hopping on a meeting, it may make more sense for them to add ideas to a document you've created.
The key is setting expectations across the board and allowing everyone to communicate when it makes the most sense. Of course, there will always be those more urgent meetings that do require everyone to be present. But by encouraging employees to collaborate async, you'll allow them to contribute when they have the time to do so.
Here are some great tools to help coworkers collaborate async:
- Instant Messaging tools like Slack allow coworkers to respond to messages on their own time.
- Link Sharing tools like GoLinks make it easy for employees to share links to collaboration docs quickly.
- Resource Management tools like Notion help you centralize collaboration within tickets or documents.
5. Limited Social Connection
If you need help on a project, are you more likely to reach out to the coworker you see and talk with regularly or the coworker you've only interacted with once? Of course, we tend to prefer people we've connected with. By encouraging social connection throughout your company, you'll promote collaboration between coworkers — even if they don't work together directly all the time.
Many companies struggle to encourage social connection among remote employees. Even in an office setting, it’s easy to form cliques that people won’t socialize outside of. Here are a few fun and easy ways to encourage deeper social connection in the workplace:
Create Informal Spaces To Socialize
If you use a messaging tool like Slack, you can create fun channels such as “food” or “movies” where people can discuss things they are passionate about outside of work. This allows people across the company to connect on similar interests.
Run An In-Person Company Get-Together
In-person get-togethers can create space for deeper conversation and allow people to discuss things they usually wouldn't at work. During times like these, you learn more about your coworker's backgrounds and what they can bring to the table regarding future collaboration.
Host Weekly Happy Hours For The Team
Whether this is in-person or virtual, creating a happy hour space for fun, casual games can help people connect on a new level.
If you are looking for more ways to build company-wide bonds, check out this list of 40 team building activities.
6. Lack Of Incentives
According to Kevin Martin, the Chief Research Officer at i4cp, “The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration.” He also adds, “Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.”
If your company isn't rewarding productive collaborative behavior, why should your employees be motivated to work this way? There are tools that can help you with incentivization to change the mindset of your employees.
Nectar, for example, makes it easy to reward employees with rewards they'll actually want. Here’s how it works:
- Employees reward their coworkers with Nectar points to recognize their hard work, productivity, or collaboration.
- Companies can also incentivize collaborative behaviors through custom challenges like organizing a team activity or attending a different team meeting.
- Employees can use their Nectar points to purchase rewards such as Amazon products, company swag, or gift cards.
This system of recognition gets coworkers excited and motivates them to go above and beyond in their daily work.
Start Improving Collaboration Among Your Employees
For your teams and your individual employees to do their best work, they need to be able to work together. And as an organization, it's up to you to give them the strategy, framework, and tools they need to collaborate more effectively with each other.
Alexa is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager for GoLinks, a knowledge management tool that lets you turn any long url into a short, memorable link that's easy to share. With 6 years of experience in the B2B tech space, she is passionate about sharing tips and tools to help professionals with productivity.