This week my colleague Grace Chandonnet points us to great research on the benefits of collaboration and shares some of the methods we use (and you can, too) to take advantage of deep knowledge and resources around you.
The events of the recent past have inspired divisiveness and mistrust amongst the citizens of the United States and even the world. For the sake of my own wellbeing, I’ve been trying to focus on the things in my life that make me feel connected to something positive. Fortunately for me, not only am I connected to work that makes a real difference in the world, but I have an amazing group of colleagues who are always ready and willing to collaborate.
COLLABORATION’S MULTIPLE BENEFITS
According to Murali Krishna, HR Service Administrator at IBM, “Collaboration not only equals a happier workforce, it represents an educated one. This is because it naturally inspires a sense of community within an organization, meaning that employees feel almost like they are a part of a family. Additionally, collaboration allows employees to learn from each other and the bosses.”
Here at HBG, we utilize each other’s strengths and areas of expertise as a sort of brain trust. If I need help with Excel or have a question about family offices, Kenny is a whiz in these areas. New York City real estate? Kelly is HBG’s go-to gal. Mary is learning Arabic and has studied the cultures of the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. Angie S. is focusing on getting to know the venture philanthropy circuit and the trailblazers in education reform philanthropy. If I want to talk to the expert on current trends in philanthropy or political fundraising, I hit up Rachel and Elizabeth. I wish I had room to mention each one of my colleagues and their specific areas of expertise, but you get the picture. The best part of all this is the generosity of spirit that I always find when I reach out to any one of my colleagues. We make the time to help each other.
Murali Krishna recommends the use of technology to facilitate this type of collaboration. To collaborate more easily, HBG uses a tool called HipChat, which we are all logged onto during our work days. Even though our company workforce is decentralized with team members in many parts of the country, they are always at my fingertips. When any one of us is stuck, we can throw out our dilemma to the brain trust that is the Helen Brown Group and start a conversation. I can’t think of one time when I’ve done this and wasn’t pointed in a helpful direction by one or more of my colleagues.
In addition to having access to a wealth of expertise, HBG has embedded business practices that foster collaboration in other ways. When one of us is tasked with a difficult prospect identification project, it is our practice to use a “Council of Three.” Typically done via a conference call, it’s a brainstorming session that is invaluable in getting the creative juices flowing around where and how to find those prospects. When a client needs a research audit, HBG always uses two staff members – again for the different perspectives. Our bi-weekly staff meetings, where we use face-to-face meeting software via our webcams, are used as opportunities to share wisdom, best practices, explore new resources and new ways to use them.
COLLABORATION IS GOOD BUSINESS
Another result of collaboration in the workplace that cannot be overlooked is that a collaborative environment is thought to increase employees’ sense of ownership, which results in high employee retention and ultimately a more robust bottom line. A Google Cloud G Suite study entitled Working Better Together – A study of collaboration and innovation in the workplace, surveyed 258 North American business and IT leaders. Respondents were asked to complete a survey about their beliefs and predictions around innovation and collaboration in the workplace. The authors of the study plotted the data they had collected for job satisfaction against the extent to which a company fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration and “the two sets of values appeared to correlate quite clearly. 88% of respondents who strongly agreed that their company fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration also strongly agreed that employee morale and job satisfaction are high.”
According to the website Mindtools.com, which was established in 1995 by James Manktelow, a recognized expert in career development, “human beings are naturally social creatures – we crave friendship and positive interactions, just as we do food and water…so it makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we’re going to be.”
MOVING FORWARD – TOGETHER
Good relationships are more important now than ever. Good work is more fulfilling now than ever. My hope for all of you, for my colleagues and our clients, and for myself is that we can find the people and opportunities in every area of our lives with whom to connect and collaborate. Chances are, if you work in the areas of development research, fundraising, in the nonprofit or NGO world, you are lucky enough to have mission-driven work and some like-minded colleagues.
We are working together to make the world a better place and I don’t think that’s going away any time soon.