It may sound like the latest management-by-buzzword. But, according to a new survey on collaboration in the workplace, it’s not just talking says Paul Haarman.​

5 Secrets to Getting Employees to Collaborate with Each Other (Matthew Rothenberg June 20th, 2009)

The idea of collaboration and cooperation has been one that has been emphasized in organizations since the industrial revolution and before. However, it seems that there was a significant increase in popularity around 1980 when we saw an emphasis on teamwork; open sharing of information and the coming into being to ideas related to empowerment. Since then collaboration has encompassed concepts such as collective intelligence, crowdsourcing, externalization of employees at all levels, innovation networks, social learning, etc.  

Nowadays managers are expected to collaborate with each other to achieve desired results. This article is about how managers can incorporate core principles in their environment so that they can get their employees to collaborate better with each other.

The key insights provided by this article are:

1) Collaboration requires trust and security so be careful who you let onto your network and ensure that you have the right technical and cultural controls in place says Paul Haarman.

2) Collaboration works best when people feel like they are working towards a common goal. This requires goals, strategies, and visions to be communicated clearly and often.

3) The implication here is that managers need to take responsibility for guiding their employees through setting goals and then following up on these goals during the course of the year.

4) Employees need to be rewarded for collaborative activities such as referrals, knowledge sharing etc so consider introducing incentives for collaboration or offer public recognition of an individual’s contribution to a collaborative effort.

5) Effective collaboration means engaging with a diverse range of people from multiple internal functions, geographical locations and levels within your organization so look beyond your immediate team at whom else.


1) Is this another article which tells us that managers need to be working collaboratively within their teams?

Yes, collaboration is an activity that can be achieve across organizational boundaries and by engaging people who may report to other managers explains Paul Haarman. This means that it is in the best interest of managers in order to deliver required results and increase performance levels in their own team. However, we do see in many cases where there is a reluctance on the part of employees to work with each other and often this is because they do not trust each other or they simply don’t know how to. Therefore encouraging better collaboration between employees should also include coaching sessions so that people understand what they are expected to achieve when collaborating with others or else address why certain individuals feel threatened when they are asked to work with others.

2) What if managers want their employees to be more collaborative but they don’t know how to encourage them?

There are best practices that can learn from other organizations that have had success in creating an environment where the culture supports collaboration. One example is IBM’s Collaboration Solutions Group, which has developed a set of tools called Collaborative Business Framework (CBF). This provides activities and assessments for individuals or groups which cover different levels of team maturity within an organization. There are also many books available on the subject of teamwork and collaboration including The Starfish and the Spider. The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom

3) Which types of managers and employees will most benefit from this article?

Any manager who works in an environment where they need their people. To work collaboratively with each other so that they can achieve results together. This could include functional managers within a cross-functional team or it could be project managers, group managers, etc. Employees who want to feel like they are part of larger social communities. And working towards shared goals would also find this information useful. Collaborative employees tend to bring benefits such as enhanced motivation. And engagement with the business more expertise sharing, better decisions and increased creativity.

4) Isn’t collaboration all about technology (e.g. Yammer)?

Collaboration is not necessarily about using technology; however, the use of collaborative tools does provide efficiencies for any manager. Or an employee who needs to work with other people. Collaboration tools are being adopt by organizations of all sizes but they are not always use effectively. So managers need to encourage their employees to adopt these tools. Also ensure that there is sufficient training available to ensure maximum benefits.


Many managers see the benefits of encouraging collaboration within their teams. But do not know how to encourage their employees to work together says Paul Haarman. Unfortunately with many companies adopting lean methodologies. They are now asking employees to work in cross-functional teams. Where there is little or no opportunity for knowledge sharing. As well as breaking down silos so that they function autonomously