There are some businesses that do it well and some that just don’t seem to be cut out for it.
We are talking about team collaboration — the collective development and fostering of a business environment that encourages idea sharing.
Some companies have this built into their process and daily functioning so well that they are great examples of how a business can grow by putting their minds together and working as a unit.
There have been many great ideas put into practice to encourage this kind of an environment. There are brainstorming sessions, rooms dedicated to thinking, idea sharing software, team building sessions and workshops, events and social gatherings, and other carefully thought out programs that instill the habit of collaborating and working as a team to innovate and move ahead.
Then, there is the social networking platform — which is one of the most natural tools to foster a collaborative environment.
For example — if a business decides to do a team building workshop, or maybe a meeting to brainstorm ideas on what they can do to improve the next version of their product, they will need to organize an event and then persuade employees to attend through an email, phone call, fax, etc.
However, if the company had an online collaboration / social networking platform and started a discussion topic around the subject, employees would more likely pitch their ideas and participate.
To most of us ‘Internet- capable’ people, it comes quite naturally to participate in online discussions, share or post interesting photos or video, or collaborate with others online.
Recently, someone posted a business question on popular business networking site I use, asking others’ advice on a topic and whether they had any experience that could help. Instantly, there were replies, experiences, advice, and ideas on how she could move ahead with her dilemma — from not just one person, but from several others who could help her. I’m sure that this saved her a lot of time and money — simply because she had a platform to collaborate with others and leverage the community’s expertise.
However, in order to achieve that level of communication, businesses first have to provide the social networking platform to their employees.
You can build a social networking platform into your own business website and make it the core platform for everyone involved to get together online. Once the platform is provided, people will get involved with blogging, discussing problems or topics, collaborating on projects, sharing ideas (ideation) through blogs and forums, collecting consensus through polls and using all the other features available to them.
When people collaborate online, things often translate into offline actions automatically. Having the technology infrastructure internally to build a social network within the business encourages everyone to participate in the business actively, and promotes the work environment as well as a constant learning environment that so many businesses are still seeking.
The right technology platform is one great step ahead towards getting there, so go ahead and encourage business collaboration the social way.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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