5 Top tips on developing and introducing a collaborative culture physically and virtually
1. It starts with your management team
A collaborative culture needs to be set by your management team, who demonstrate and support that culture through their individual and collective actions. By doing it yourself, you’ll encourage all staff to share thoughts and ideas and not be afraid to ask. Strong leaders are good at developing that feeling in each individual member of staff that their thoughts, experience and ideas are important and valued.
2. Focus on building relationships
Help your staff build personal relationships throughout your team from the day they join. Provide time, space and opportunity for your team to get to know and simply spend time with each other. We try to make sure everyone who joins has at least two ‘buddies’. One to help them get up to speed with our procedures, client work, colleagues, etc, and another from a different team altogether who is there to answer what a new joiner might feel is a ‘silly’ question (there aren’t any) or simply chat to about their weekend or the mad thing their cockerpoo had done that morning.
Our approach, where we take time to get to know each other as individuals, improves the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Yes, it is harder to do virtually because it takes greater effort to consciously switch off ‘work’ mode and switch on ‘friend’ mode when you’re calling rather than sitting next to someone, but it’s well worth encouraging that ethic among your staff.
3. Be social
It’s good for the soul, as well as for creating a collaborative culture. We’ve always made a point of doing everything from regular team lunches when you’re in the office to whole business charity events and social get togethers. Being a strong team socially meant we were in good shape when the pandemic hit and we all made the effort to continue social activity in the virtual world while working remotely.
Team lunches became team social calls where people just chat about their week, what they’re watching on tv, etc, and not really about work. Whole business socials went from single location favourites like an improvisation workshop with RADA, RIB boat rides on the Thames and flight simulator and aviation skills challenges, to a virtual summer fete with baking and best hat competitions, bingo and goody boxes. Unfortunately you can’t taste cakes through a screen, but they still look amazing so virtual is perfectly achievable and will remain important as more staff work remotely more often in future.
4. Make collaborating easy
Different members of our team prefer sharing things in different ways. That’s why we make sure the PSGS team has a whole host of opportunities for collaborating. We use tech smartly and have an online platform (called the hub) which is core platform for facilitating the sharing of knowledge within the team.
This is supplemented with regular ‘open platform’ team meetings – in-person pre-Covid-19 and switched to fortnightly Town Hall style video calls during the pandemic. Smaller groups, such as our scheme secretarial team, have calls which help the team come together, share work they’re doing for clients and ask if others have experience of different issues. Rotating the chair each meeting generates a sense of ownership and openness across the team.
5. Be proud about the value of collaboration
Collaboration is so important to us. It is the first word we use to describe not only our culture, but also our business. Whether you’re helping a new joiner settle in and get up to speed quickly, helping team members to do their jobs faster and more efficiently or helping your clients benefit from the power of aggregated knowledge, sharing and collaborating is valuable in so many ways.
In partnership with Punter Southall Governance Services (PSGS)
PSGS are trusteeship and pension governance experts.