March 23, 2021

Technology Leaders Roundtable: Creating a collaborative culture

The latest event in Jumar’s Technology Leaders Roundtable series, which focused on creating a collaborative culture, was well attended by senior technology figures from across financial services and the public sector. These virtual events are designed to give leaders an opportunity to discuss key challenges and share best practice with peers. 

Here are the key takeaways from the discussion:

The importance of building a collaborative culture

Creating a healthy, collaborative culture, where people can work effectively together is a key component for increasing productivity. Organisations can get the best out of people and teams when they really embrace working together and support those around them. Creating a culture of collaboration can be challenging, but without it, the working environment can become destructive and can lead to increased absenteeism, grievances, and reduced resilience.

Key factors for creating a collaborative culture:

  • Clear goal – probably the most crucial factor in creating a collaborative culture is to have a precise goal. It is important to make sure the goal is completely clear, it is communicated widely, and everyone in the team understands how they can contribute towards achieving it. Attendees noted that, during the initial stages of the Covid pandemic, having a very clear direction and target resulted in increased collaboration, problem-solving and delivering outcomes at a higher rate.  This was in part due to organisations being able to deprioritise other activities in order to respond to immediate Covid-related requirements. The question now is, how can that collaboration be leveraged to manage cultural change in a complex environment with multiple priorities?
  • Collaborative leaders – hiring and developing collaborative leaders is essential. Having leaders who are enthusiastic about the vision, and understand the importance of collaboration, provide the energy and encouragement to motivate the team.
  • Communication – having regular, open communication is key. Formal communication campaigns are a great way to clearly communicate the vision across the organisation, whilst informal communication is necessary to build relationships and trust within the team.
  • Creating opportunities – a diverse and inclusive workplace can promote effective collaboration. In order to attract a more diverse workforce in technology, many organisations have collaborated with youth organisations, schools and colleges to showcase technology careers to young women and people from minority backgrounds.  This creates opportunities for a wider pool of people to consider tech jobs.

Barriers to cultural change

  • Management reluctance to change – Occasionally top-level and/or middle management can be the most reluctant to change. Hiring leaders who understand the importance of collaboration, as well as providing training and development to upskill current management on collaborative behaviours can help reduce resistance to change.  
  • Systems – it was acknowledged that certain, long-standing, inflexible systems and processes can drive an unhealthy culture. By taking away, or modifying, policies and processes that reward negative behaviours, it opens up more opportunities for collaboration.
  • Agile working – while Agile ways of working invariably result in iterations that affect the scope of a project, it is important to always be mindful of the end goal.  It is vital that Agile teams always refer back to this goal when managing change on a sprint-by-sprint basis.
  • Commercial models – as the public sector moves towards an increased use of recruiting teams (rather than individuals) to deliver outcomes-based deliverables, this presents a challenge around creating the right culture to maximise a team’s potential.  Ensuring everyone is aware of the ultimate goal, and how they contribute towards it, as well as regular communication and strong relationship building can help alleviate this challenge.

If you would like more information about our Roundtable Series, please get in touch.

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