Fostering Collaboration

How do you engage with customers, employees, vendors, community and fellow businesses? What is the “culture” of your business? Your culture is the human side of what you do and is a significant part of your success.

Our customers, employees, vendors, community and fellow businesses are collaborators and investors. We need them all to be invested in what we do. We can foster greater investment by creating a highly collaborative culture in our business. The more we view those around us as collaborators, the more we listen to what they are saying.

For example, are customers coming to you and asking for something you don’t have or a service you don’t provide? Why did they come to you? Is that product or service available somewhere else? If not, does it fit with what you do? That customer thought it did. They may have introduced you to a growth potential. Put your radar up and seek input.

Your staff can provide great input for improving and growing what you do. What are they asking you? Are they comfortable about making suggestions? Are you acting on their suggestions and crediting them? Are you empowering them to act on ideas? They have experience beyond the walls of your business and it’s likely they are talking to others about their workplace. They can provide valuable feedback to help improve what you are doing and open potential growth areas. Fostering their collaboration will help with retention and can significantly help your bottom line.

Vendors and fellow business owners are another great source of collaboration. They have experienced their own successes and failures and have seen what has worked or not worked with their collaborators. Business after hours events and involvement in community activities provide great opportunities to learn from our local potential collaborators.

Creating a culture that is highly collaborative requires effort. It begins with paying attention and valuing those around you as collaborators. As it takes hold, it can be great fun and highly rewarding.

Written by Blog Contributor: Linda S. Henderson