Research and experience tell us that collaboration is critical to organizational success. In fact, 86% of executives cite poor collaboration as the main reason for workplace failures. And only 14% of executives feel completely satisfied with their ability to collaborate and make decisions as a team. Why is it so difficult to work together?

We often hear executives say teamwork is important. Some CEO’s even make it part of their corporate values (Ford, Bain, Pfizer). But even as they place an emphasis on it, most CEOs have no idea how collaboration is going, because they don’t know how to measure it. Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, educator, and author, famously said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Here are 4 tips to help you measure collaboration – so you can better manage it:

1. Know what is going well. When you assess collaboration, focus on finding out what is working well. Then, look for ways to do more of those good things. This data provides positive feedback to leaders and team members about collaboration successes (rather than focusing on failures), and that creates pride, which fosters engagement.

2. Create a safe space. Many leaders don’t know how to make a safe space for teams to raise and address “touchy” issues. What doesn’t work is rarely a secret; teams are usually keenly aware of their flaws. When we do diagnostics on a corporation’s teamwork and collaboration, teams are usually not surprised by our findings. The reaction is always, “Yes, that’s exactly what’s going wrong!” Yet, the team isn’t talking about their problems – and how to fix them – because they don’t have a safe space to do so. Remember, teams can’t solve a problem they can’t discuss.

3. Create accountability. Once you have a baseline measure and an understanding of the past successes and failures of the team, you can then create accountability to improve collaboration. Help people take responsibility, set clear and measurable goals/expectations for the team, delegate authority, and track results.

4. Celebrate improvement. Measuring teamwork means clearly seeing how the team is functioning and being able to recognize improvements. When you shift a team’s focus to active participation and open discussion, you encourage teamwork and promote healthy debate – which helps a teamwork together. That creates a positive cycle of collaboration!

By taking the time to assess organizational collaboration, you will be able to increase team pride and engagement, bring problems to the surface (and solve them), and ultimately become better collaborators. Good luck!


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