Leaders must avoid…trying only to directly manage individual behavior and instead seek to shape the context for that behavior. Questions or rules aimed at fostering autonomy and cooperation…can be more effective than top-down control in shaping collective behavior.
1. Create Opportunities for Collaboration
If this is new, assess where there is room for collaboration. Perhaps employees might have ideas to elicit more service reviews, ideas for better recruitment or training processes, and maintenance reward plans.
2. Assign Collaborative Leaders from Your Senior Team
Meet with your senior team first to explain your vision and the need to foster a more collaborative company culture. Assign the leaders to head the collaboration on respective tasks. Be clear about the micro and macro goals and expectations. Include benchmarks, team suggestions, and follow-up meeting dates.
3. Companywide Meeting
Meet with the entire team to let them know about forthcoming changes. Be clear on your intention and explain that more collaboration may ultimately mean more initiative and responsibility. This first meeting is your opportunity to get feedback on where changes are needed and to assess any potential resistance.
4. Resist the Need to Veto
If you’ve been running the business with a top-down approach, you may be more comfortable striking ideas with quick vetoes. Resist the need to veto any feedback at first. Hear it out and allow each employee to support his or her idea, before striking it down.
5. Create Departmental Team Accountability
If you truly want a culture of collaboration, let department teams meet individually at the beginning stages of a project. Allow employees to be accountable to respective team members. Social cues will dictate that they deliver on expectations. Then, at company benchmark meetings, assess the status, progress, and/or stagnation of the project.
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