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How purpose drives greater collaboration

How purpose drives greater collaboration

Collaboration is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot in today’s workplace, but practical advice on how to actually implement a collaborative work environment is few and far between. 

Imagine a leader sitting down with their team and, in a David Brent style scenario, saying: “Come on everyone. Collaborate more. Gareth, Tim, Dawn – get together later and collaborate!”

To encourage people to work across different roles, functions, departments or even countries within your organisation, you’ll need to do a little more than tell people to collaborate. 

In a recent blog, we provided some practical tips for organisations wanting to encourage greater collaboration. And while these tips are useful, it would be amiss not to mention that the most influential element to encourage greater collaboration in the workplace is purpose. Here’s why:

Why should your employees care about collaborating? 

In today’s new world of work environment, collaboration has become a necessity, with 94% of organisations stating that ‘agility and collaboration’ are critical to their success. 

But when trying to encourage greater collaboration in the workplace, one of the first questions you’re going to come up against is “Why?”

Why should your employees bother to stray outside their traditional job functions and work alongside people from different teams? What do they get out of it?

Collaboration results in greater engagement levels, increased productivity and a boost in overall company performance - but these facts alone aren’t enough to get people to actually want to collaborate. For that, you’ll need a purpose. 

The French aviator and author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, once said: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

This same principle applies to the modern workforce - to get people to work together, you’ll need to unite them around a common purpose. 

Unite your people around your purpose.

Unlike vision, mission and values statements, your purpose stands the test of time by authentically describing the reason why your organisation exists. Purpose-driven organisations benefit from a number of perks: stronger employee engagement, attraction and retention rates, increased customer engagement and loyalty, and better overall business performance, to name a few. 

Once implemented, your purpose statement will go on to influence all aspects of your organisation, from strategy and structure, decision-making, and recruitment and employee development. It will also allow your employees to understand the real reason why your organisation exists (besides making a profit), and allow them to get behind it.

As an example, The Walt Disney Company’s purpose statement is to: “Promote and spread happiness.” It’s simple and inspirational enough for everyone within the organisation to understand and believe in – yet pragmatic to the point where it can make a real difference in the world.

Purpose creates a culture of trust, where your people will put their differences aside and work together towards a common goal or objective. So, with a clear purpose in mind, your people will see how their collaborative efforts benefit a larger cause beyond the confines of their role or function.

Focus on the individual as well as the team. 

While purpose naturally encourages collaboration, it’s equally as important to take a calculated approach when creating, shaping and developing your teams.

Everyone has a different mindset. Mindset is an approach an individual adopts in response to or in the face of tasks, challenges and opportunities. Someone’s mindset impacts their attitudes, inclinations and preferences in their approach to work, as well as their response to criticism, failure and learning. 

So, when you’re forming project teams or pairing people up together, it’s important to take their preferred working styles and motivational drivers, as well as their skills and attributes, into the equation in order to effectively encourage collaboration. Mindset can be measured using our psychometric tools designed by our business psychologists.

To find out more about how to create and embed a sense of purpose in your organisation, read our free Organisational Purpose Executive Briefing.

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