Building a Collaborative Culture In a Startup


The work of startup founders is to engage people, projects, and their teams through collaboration.? Most of the startups fail to become synergistic because they do not recognise that most of the work gets done through relationships, and not through the hierarchy or set of rules. The culture of collaboration rides on the channels of communication and not vice versa.

Collaborative culture should be number one priority

Thus, the first and foremost mission of a startup founder is to create collaborative culture through relationship building and developing agreed ways of working together. When the teams are getting formed, it makes sense to lock down on communication infrastructure, protocols, and process flow.

Building atmosphere in a startup

Establishing infrastructure does not mean that strict rules are to be created and stringently enforced, it is important to decide as a group what kind of environment the team wants to set up and sustain. They can place priority on being personally supportive, or conversely being focused only on work. They can elect to have full dialogue or not have it at all. They can be fast moving or reflective, risk taking or conservative. They can exchange e-mail jokes or ban them. The company’s atmosphere is largely shaped by the choices of the individual members and how they elect and select the terms of interaction between them.

Must Read:?Why Are Your Employees Unhappy

Learning and Information sharing in a startup

Learning occurs to a great extent through conversations. A person hanging around, chatting online or having an off-line discussion with team members is not a distraction; it should be seen as collaboration. If it is not happening, then the manager?s job is to stir things up.

In a startup, the role of a manager is to build relationships as well as monitor and coach the team members for superior performance. Active inter-team relationships have multifold benefits; it is observed that when the team members know each other, it becomes easier for them to ask for help and make appropriate demands.

Role of a startup founder in building identity

As a founder of the startup company, think about what kind of identity & mood you want to set for the team. Through their actions, founders of a start-up must drive relationship building and a sense of oneness with the team. To drive this, you should talk about the styles, behaviours, and technical tools that will create a shared identity. The questions to consider are:

– How will they think about their team purpose?

– What does the interaction look like?

– What role, if any, will power and politics play in this team and between this team and the larger organization?

– How public does the team want to make its accomplishments?

– How involved will the stakeholders be?

There is no right or wrong answer to these questions; the choice is dependent on the team dynamics and your startup culture.

Practical tools to build collaborative culture in a startup

Water cooler talks are those casual conversations that spontaneously occur in offices, these little spontaneous interactions are often a critical success factor for team synergy, and it must be encouraged in startups. Your office design should not promote ghettos or solos; make sure there are places, nooks, and corners, which can trigger conversations. Other simple mechanisms are intranet team home pages, instant messaging tools like ThemeChat, open and ongoing chat rooms, electronic bulletin boards, and virtual and face-to-face group meetings.

Interesting Read:?Building a Collaborative Culture In a Startup

Additionally, you could try these techniques to build the culture of collaboration.

– Post pictures of team members at workstations or as screen savers.

– Create metaphors to anchor the work, the team?s connection to one another, and value drivers.

– The team leader should attend vigilantly to the team?s need to be connected to one another through the work and relationships.

– Develop as few process guidelines, but the team must commit to using them.

– Define common language, methodologies, and processes to make sure all team members understand them.

You also need to decide how decisions will be made and conflicts will be resolved. To do this, Identify criteria for both project decisions and team?s process requirements.

As a leader, you need to create and commit to the way the team will inform and involve one another and its stakeholders; you should agree on what, when, and how the information will be shared. And after that how the team members should ideally respond.

By using these tips and tools, I am sure that you will be able to set a culture of collaboration in your startup.

Jappreet Sethi

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