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Creating a Collaborative Culture

Are you dealing with a toxic environment within your workplace? Can your employees barely tolerate each other? Do you fear that your employees are one miscommunication away from recreating a scene out of Lord of the Flies? Well it sounds like you are struggling with creating a collaborative culture and your employees are suffering as a result.

According to Inc. Magazine, “Building a collaborative culture requires defining and building a shared purpose, cultivating an ethic of contribution, developing processes that enable people to work together in flexible but disciplined projects, and creating an infrastructure in which collaboration is valued and rewarded*.”

While we agree that refining processes, systems, and structures contribute to a culture of collaboration there are two things that carry greater weight: strong leadership and healthy relationships. A team without a strong leader is like a rudderless ship, adrift in the wind. And what will happen to that ship? Well, we don’t know and neither do those on board. The ship ends up wherever the external forces determine. In addition, a team without healthy relationships is like a puzzle with pieces that refuse to stick together, even when they fit. Either way it is not a good situation to be in. But when leaders understand and commit to setting the right tone, and relationships are valued, it lays the groundwork needed to build a culture of collaboration.

Think of building a collaborative culture as Teambuilding 2.0. And truly fostering teamwork among your employees is more complicated that just getting them to be civil to each other. Perhaps everyone does get along great within your company. But even though everyone smiles at each other, and no one’s birthday is ever forgotten, somehow nothing ever seems to get done. And just because everyone gets a cake on their birthday does not mean that you are fostering teamwork. A truly successful work environment means more than cake. It means getting things done with and through others. Here are some of the most common challenges that leaders and teams face:

  • “We can’t serve our external customers because we haven’t figured out we’re each others’ internal customer first.”
  • “How can we collaborate with other organizations when departments, divisions, and units within this agency don’t even collaborate with each other?”
  • “Our culture is too toxic to be collaborative. We don’t trust each other and everyone thinks their way is the right way.”

Leaders and teams that are successful at cultivating a collaborative culture demonstrate several traits and characteristics:

  • They are believable. When we’re believable, people have confidence in our words and intentions. We increase our credibility and trust in each other. When the leader is believable the team not only trusts the leader, they trust each other.


  • They are teachable. Teachable means we are ready and willing to learn. We have the capacity to be instructed and then grow from the lessons learned. When the leader is teachable the team is teachable.


  • They are accountable. Accountable means we acknowledge that we are obligated to accept responsibility for our actions and required to answer to someone. When the leader is accountable team members increase expectations of self and others.

So are you struggling with cultivating a collaborative culture? If you ask the right questions and look in the right places sooner or later you’ll uncover culture killers within your team like: lack of trust (someone’s not believable), lack of listening (someone’s not teachable), or lack of results (someone’s not being held accountable).

The Weathers Group is a 12-year-old management-consulting firm based in Columbia, SC that specializes in organizational development, executive coaching, and facilitation. So if you’re tired of living in a Shakespearian tragedy and want to start creating a collaborative culture, let us know. We’ll provide the support to ensure that your company’s future is a bright one.


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