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Phoenix Forward

5 benefits of workplace collaboration

Paper cutouts of people holding hands

When business leaders establish company goals, “Create a collaborative culture” may not make their short list. That’s because the return on investment might not be clear to decision-makers.

Kevin Gazzara, DM, University of Phoenix School of Business faculty member and author of “The Leader of Oz, Revealing the 101 Secrets of Marvelous Leadership for the 21st Century” says that collaboration is a win-win for businesses and employees. An entrepreneur and business leader for 30 years, Gazzara offers five big benefits to creating a collaborative culture.

1. People innovate faster in a collaborative workplace.

The old “two heads are better” adage is true, as long as the team’s expectations are clear. Gazzara cautions that without specific goals and guidelines, teamwork can degenerate into “social loafing” which endangers achievement.

“Managers should provide the structure of how to achieve management’s targets,” he says. “After 30 years in business, I’ve seen collaboration offer a faster time to market for products and services because you’re leveraging everyone’s knowledge and effort.” 

2. Collaboration helps you keep up with the fast, global pace.

Gazzara explains why collaboration is needed in today’s business environment. “With so much global competition and advanced technology, things happen at a faster pace and you have to keep up in order to be successful.”

Building a team of individuals with diverse strengths allows them to accomplish a variety of complex tasks. A competent team can accomplish much more than any one person alone — helping them keep up to a fast marketplace.

3. When you work with a team, you utilize many strengths.

Gazzara explains how working in collaboration taps into abilities that go beyond job descriptions. He uses his experience at Intel to illustrate this point. “I didn’t just rely on the skills that applied to my program manager job. Because we needed to influence busy stakeholders to pay attention to our projects, I also had to use negotiating skills.”

4. Cooperation supports both team and individual goals.

An added benefit to a teamwork culture is that staff members also develop cross-functional skills, such critical thinking and negotiation. This is one reason that University of Phoenix structures its Master of Business Administration degree program to include Learning Teams.

“The entire MBA program is designed for collaboration,” explains Gazzara. “The Learning Team mirrors team effort in the business world. We hold the student accountable as part of a team, while being responsible for their own development.”

5. Using resources to their fullest improves employee retention.

According to Gazzara, successful team players create even greater success for the company. “People like to do work with people who hold up their end of the bargain; and they like people who are great communicators.”

He points out that successful teams naturally develop employee retention, “Team work builds communication and an idea culture that helps retain valuable employees.” As a team works together over time, the individuals in the team become more adept in that environment and the likelihood that they value their team increases with each success.