Trust and collaboration in the workplace

For the vast majority of people, collaboration is a matter of willingness, not ability. And unless there is a fundamental wish to collaborate, it won’t happen. When senior people in organisations tell their team leaders to work together, it will only happen if ‘they’ want it to.

How do you get people to collaborate?

A first step is for the senior leaders of the organisation to set an example by being seen to collaborate with others to get things done. The simplest and most impactful thing they can do is to be trusted. And the most impactful way they can do this is to keep their word – to do as they say they will do.

Without exception, all the surveys we’ve done to give senior organisation leaders feedback from staff on their performance have revealed a yearning for leaders to keep their promises – always. No excuses. If leaders give reasons why promises are not delivered, significant damage is done. Why should staff trust their colleagues if they can’t trust their leaders?

So the leader’s role here is to role model the circumstances in which collaboration will flourish.

The great thing about focusing on delivering is that it focuses the mind on what you promise. So, no more half-promises then. While this is not easy, taking a stand on this issue is a sure-fire way to get others around you to follow your example.

But what if things go out of your control and you can’t deliver? Of course, it happens. But what ‘they’ will pick up on is not the outcome of the non-delivery but the spirit of it. Here’s a common example: you are delayed to attend an important meeting. Two strategies are possible. One is that you phone ahead and explain what has happened and give a new expected time of arrival. The second is that you just turn up late for the meeting offering your apologies. Which strategy causes damage and which doesn’t?

We’ve got a few questions about your experiences:

  1. Have you been let down by promises made by your leaders?
  2. …and by your colleagues?
  3. What is your experience of others going the extra mile to get the result they promised you?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments field below!