Why Collaboration is Vital to Corporate Learning and Development Strategy
Every enterprise leader understands that learning and professional development are the keys to retaining a highly productive workforce. However, implementing programs that support communication and collaboration is often part of the job description of an entry-level human resource manager than being a top-down initiative from the C-Suite.
Far beyond being simple professional development exercises, strategic communication and collaboration are key drivers for developing an effective corporate learning and development strategy that leads to improved business performance and profitability. The leadership team that makes these organizational factors a priority will lead its company to new levels of success.
Here are three ways in which prioritizing collaboration and communication can transform business performance.
Companies That Communicate Have Higher Profitability
Research from the firm Towers Watson shows that companies that have been successful at implementing effective internal communication strategies enjoy up to 47 percent higher total returns to the shareholders than companies without.
Also telling is that Fortune 500 companies lose $31.5 billion each year by failing to share knowledge — according to the market intelligence and advisory firm, International Data Corp — and that makes sense. An organization that can clearly and easily exchange information can make better decisions faster, leading to increased productivity and overall accessibility to information.
Organizations seeking to reap the benefits of increased communication won’t be successful if they simply decide that communicating better is a new trend. For this change to be successful, leadership teams must support the shift by example, communicating clearly and frequently with their own teams and recognizing staff members that follow the example. Leaders must also lead by policy, investing in and implementing a centralized internal communication platform that truly facilitates wide-scale communication and collaboration.
Collaboration Leads to Large- and Small-Scale Synergy
Have you ever discovered after the fact that your team missed a huge opportunity because of a missed call, missed email, or someone was out sick from another department? This is a small-scale example of how information silos within an organization prevent asynchronous opportunities from coming together.
Silos — and the turf wars they enable – devastate organizations,” says workplace productivity specialist Patrick Lencioni. “They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals.
These missed opportunities and connections between departments may seem like simple inconveniences, but they sap the potential you have for new opportunities as well as breed dysfunction within your workplace.
In a recent survey conducted by CGS, it was found that some of the collaboration woes between corporate learning and development departments and line of business leaders might be self-inflicted. Alignment with the business is one of the most talked about goals in the L&D community. But only 40% of survey respondents meet with business leads more often than 4 times per year to collaborate across departments.
Collaboration and communication among small teams, departments, and entire companies allow for synergies on many different levels, such as better customer service, shared best practices success stories and lessons learned, and innovative brainstorming. But without a centralized and leadership-supported communication infrastructure, employees miss out on these opportunities and often get in each other’s way, leading to even more reduced communication and division over time.
The most successful companies build common ground among departments using universal communication technologies such as social media, instant messaging platforms, or custom-built software. Company values reinforce the use of these technologies through performance reviews and internal processes, over time formalizing an environment that actually defaults to collaboration and communication.
Access to Information Creates Efficiencies
If one employee takes a course, who benefits? Only that employee, and perhaps his one or two direct reports. But if an employee takes a course and summarizes his findings in a company’s internal communications board, who benefits? Every person who engages with the update.
This small example repeated on a large scale explains the findings in a 2013 study6 on the silo effect within the pharmaceutical industry that outlined the efficiencies created by maintaining a central hub of intelligence. Access to information helps your company improve productivity, increase innovation, and make every investment in professional development, research, or consulting exponentially valuable.
This body of knowledge also has long-term value for your organization. In the face of a constantly shifting global workforce, every data source and employee insight contributes to a vault of insights and data, which can be organized into an informational asset you can use long after an employee moves on from your organization.
If your leadership team cares about productivity and profitability, it should care about communication and collaboration. Start a discussion within your organization about how increasing collaboration and communication can lead directly to increased profits, increased cross-departmental collaboration, and reduced spend in the long-term.
- Harvard Business Review: If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material
- Intuit: How Better Internal Communications Can Triple Productivity
- HR Magazine: Shedding Light on Knowledge Management
- CGS: How to Streamline Communications: Go Ahead and Shoot the Messenger
- Forbes: The Silo Mentality: How To Break Down The Barriers
- Silo Effect a Prominence Factor to Decrease Efficiency of Pharmaceutical Industry