Building a Collaborative Culture: 5 Crucial Strategies to Get the Most Out of Social CRM

Date: Jan 8, 2014 11:30:00 AM
Social CRMs and project management tools have the power to unify employees like never before. But collaboration platforms can’t be used to patch foundational voids that impede full-scale teamwork. Before considering CRMs and collaborative software, you may want step back and assess whether you’ve established a collaborative corporate culture. 

The following five business strategies need to be in place – before they become integrated into your new social CRM tool – to make sure your business will get the most out of its collaborative technology. 
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The success of social CRM technology hinges on the ability of companies to create a foundation of collaboration. Photo Credit: PRConversations.com

1. A clear vision and goals

Have them. Communicate them to every person in your business. Make them simple to understand. Then add them to your social CRM dashboard for everyone to see.

Although people typically understand their individual responsibilities, expectations for groups or teams aren’t always defined. By laying out the behaviors and values that the company expects from internal teams, you establish guidelines for positive collaboration.

These guidelines may include:

  • What does collaboration mean for your company? It’s a broad concept with many different interpretations. Define it, out loud and in writing.
  • Establish a common vocabulary. When everyone speaks the same language, conversations about goals, decisions and results become much clearer.
  • Commit to accepting, and embracing, differences. When diverse perspectives and ideas are encouraged, people learn from each other and grow together. The result is a creative and synergistic team.
  • Encourage risk-taking, and accept failure. Employees who feel safe suggesting new or unexpected ideas will advance the company’s growth and innovation. For a great example, check out our post about the “Failure Wall” at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

2. A transparent decision-making process

Make the process crystal clear. Ensure that everyone (especially top-level management) commits to – and abides by – the process. And make each step of your decision-making process visible to all employees. The last step of the process should be to communicate how the decision will impact everyone, individually and as a group. 

Two executives from CISCO, Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, co-authored a book titled, “The Collaboration Imperative.” In it, they explain the benefits of this strategy:

“When you’re open and transparent about the answers to three questions — who made the decision, who is accountable for the outcomes of the decision, and is that accountability real — people in organizations spend far less time questioning how or why a decision was made.” 

Finally, according the Ricci and Wiese, decision-making rights shouldn’t be exclusive to the most senior leaders. Once a vision and strategy are set for the company, the responsibility for making decisions can be entrusted across many levels of an organization. 

3. Provide a Collaborative Office Environment

Sure, wealthy companies like Google can design brand-new collaborative office spaces in wild colors with fun break-out spaces. But you don’t have to be Google to create an environment that encourages your employees to come together. The key to a collaborative office is to provide space for casual interactions:
  • over a fresh cup of coffee in the kitchen,
  • while climbing the stairs together,
  • while brainstorming on a white-board near a main hallway, or
  • across low workspaces in an open cubical area.
Anywhere employees can run into each other, share a brief conversation and catch up on each other’s lives and work projects… that is where collaboration begins, and grows.

4. Motivate (don’t punish)

As we alluded to in the first section (“accept failure”), fear is the enemy of collaboration. When a company punishes wayward or struggling employees, teamwork and innovation are stifled. No one wants to get out of bed to go to a job where they feel demeaned. 

Give your managers the tools, guidelines, rewards and freedom to encourage and motivate employees. It’s the old carrot instead of the whip analogy. But to nail this idea, you need to know what motivates your employees. Maybe it’s money, but not always. Would they appreciate treats in the common kitchens? A fancy new coffee maker? Flex time once a week? Know this, and you have the keys to your employees hearts and minds. 

5. Accountability

This is it – the most crucial of the five strategies here. If you don’t hold people accountable - using strong communication, follow-up, and feedback - then nothing else matters. Everyone – from the most junior new hire to the CEO – must abide by the basic rules of the company. 

By flattening the playing field a bit, we all feel a bit more like a team. 

Have you done all this already? Congratulations! You’re so ready for social CRM. While you’re looking into the options, we hope you’ll check out Fanhub. We designed it to meet the specific needs of small-to-midsized businesses like our own. Let us know what you think! @Fanhub

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