The Positive Impact Of Collaboration

In Australia, banks have had a bad rep and continue to earn mistrust among consumers. Over in Canada however, it’s a bank called Tangerine (formerly ING Direct) that is setting standards of trust, collaboration and an engaged workforce. It is no secret that collaboration is key to business success. After all, it takes the collective efforts of everyone in a team to achieve the best solutions, results and even products and services. Fostering collaboration is also good news for managers who wish to create a stress-free workplace. So there are benefits to the bottom line and for employee engagement.

How did Tangerine shake up the collaborative landscape? They got rid of the barriers that make employees feel that there is inequality. In fact, it came down to seemingly small details. For example, they got rid of assigned parking spots (even for senior leaders) and smashed silos by removing committees and replacing this with direct access to the company’s top leaders.

The result? Year after year, Tangerine was recognised for its corporate culture and highly rated by their customers.

So, what lessons can all leaders from this bank? Here are three simple steps you can implement:

  1. Break down physical barriers: By removing symbols of privileges (like reserved parking spaces and seats at decision-making committees), Tangerine enhanced the sense of everyone being part of one team. As a leader, you must reflect on whether such barriers exist in your workplace. These could appear to be trivial. But ask yourself, do you have an ‘executive’ office floor where the ‘top’ people are located or do some staff members receive better equipment based on their position? Treat everyone equally to foster real, meaningful teamwork.

  2. Tear down invisible barriers: In the same way physical symbols can deter a sense of unity, so too can hidden symbols. This could include things such as inaccessibility of leaders or when opportunities to contribute ideas are only open to specific staff members (due to position). To encourage genuine collaboration, all employees need to have a say.

  3. Work together towards a common goal: When Tangerine first changed its name from ING Direct, they anticipated a flood of queries. To handle the volume of calls, emails and chat sessions, the company rallied all their employees to field questions instead of relying on their contact centre alone. Again, leaders can learn a lot about this approach. By involving all employees in crucial, company-wide activities, you not only create a truly collaborative space – you also help individuals connect to the company’s ‘big picture’.

Your business may not be a bank but all companies can benefit from encouraging collaboration. If you break down the physical barriers, tear down invisible ones and get your team working towards a common goal, you too can enjoy success through a united and engaged team.