Research shows that you can measure the health of a relationship, team or even organisation by the average lag time between identifying and discussing problems. 

Moving away from a culture of competition to a culture of collaboration and trust is about sharing objectives and achievements with the wider team. Not only that, but providing more frequent and meaningful forums for updates and feedback. 

When we have a culture of collaboration and trust it becomes easier to hold deeper, more honest conversations that transform our relationships in the workplace. By being prepared to hold these conversations, instead of avoiding them, we also ensure clarity over responsibilities and expectations.  

This enables us to achieve excellence. 

Understanding Collaboration  

Collaboration involves individuals or groups working together towards a shared goal, pooling their collective expertise and ideas. In this environment, communication skills, active listening, and open-mindedness are key. We don’t just want employees to be able to have these conversations—we want them to be successful. 


The Power of Collaboration  

In all sectors, collaboration has consistently proven its strength. One Stanford study found that employees in a collaborative environment saw a 50% increase in productivity compared to similar employees working independently.  

Not only were these employees more productive, but they were also more motivated and engaged with their tasks. 

However, research shows that the most important factor in predicting the success of collaborative conversations is creating psychological safety right from the start. Psychological safety allows us to share ideas, questions and concerns without fear of judgement or negative repercussions. This leads to productive conversations and ongoing feedback where everyone is working towards a common goal. 

When psychological safety is low, colleagues hold back in meetings and 1:1s, which results in diminished conversation. Diversity of thought is reduced, new ideas are missed, and our opportunities for improvement are not explored. 

Understanding Competition

In competitive environments, the focus is often on individual rather than team success. This can lead to an atmosphere of distrust and hostility, potentially hindering progress and the overall success of a team or organisation.


The Role of Competition

Despite its potential pitfalls, in some cases, healthy competition can drive motivation.

In sales teams, for example, competition can encourage employees to strive for their numbers and prevent complacency. A competitive environment can also push individuals to continually set new goals and embrace new challenges, keeping them engaged and fulfilled.

However, it’s important to remember that these behaviours should be carefully managed to avoid teams losing their ability to collaborate and strive for collective success.

Combining Collaboration and Competition

Collaboration and competition do not have to be mutually exclusive. Sales teams, in particular, can benefit from a balance of collaboration and competition. By aligning individual and team goals, sales reps become more united and invested in how their role contributes to achieving success.

The Millennial Perspective

With Millennials predicted to comprise 75% of the workforce by 2030, their preference for a collaborative over a competitive workplace is increasingly significant. This generation, heavily influenced by social media, values the sense of unity and connection that comes from working as part of a team.

In a collaborative workplace, people trust each other. They share ideas and plans, discuss and make decisions together. This trust and open communication can enhance team cohesion, fostering a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

Collaboration also helps to reduce fatigue levels by sharing workloads, promotes efficient problem-solving through diverse perspectives, and encourages transparency, innovation, and new ideas.


Cultivating a Collaborative Environment

Creating a collaborative environment involves the following steps: 

  • Establishing clear goals and expectations 
  • Sharing accountability and responsibility 
  • Rewarding collaborative behaviour 
  • Fostering innovation and new ideas 
  • Promoting transparency 

An increasingly remote working environment shouldn’t stop our ability to work as a team.  

We are inundated with digital tools that help foster collaboration in the workplace. There are countless solutions to simplify communication, increase employee engagement and streamline project management. It’s important leaders take initiative and encourage team members to be proactive about using them. 

The most successful businesses are ones that understand the power of their most important resource—employees. If you’re looking to harness the power of collaboration and encourage your team to share their ideas, experiences, skills and perspectives while working on projects, then you need to prioritise developing a collaborative culture.