The Importance of Collaboration
Aristotle once said that, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” While you may not be up on BC era philosophy, this is a valuable lesson for business owners and entrepreneurs alike. A team working together in harmony can accomplish much more than a bunch of individuals doing their own thing. If you run a business with employees, outside agents, or individual distributors, getting them to work together is one of the most critical functions you perform. How do you get them all working together so that the whole of your results can be greater than the sum of each individual’s effort?
Real Life Story
Case in point, just last month I was visiting one of our amazing clients and while eavesdropping in on customer service, I overheard one of the customer service representatives chastise an Independent Sales Representative for not handling one of their client’s monthly product profile for them. The Distributor simply asked if the Agent would cancel the customers order that month. Evidently funds were tight at the moment, they and simply wanted to move it to the following month. A task that would have taken the service rep no more than one minute to perform. Instead, she held her ground, in order to “make a point” and in the end, lost the company a long-term customer and almost lost the now jaded and once devoted distributor. Sure, she’ll get over it, but because the customer service representative lost sight of who she was there to serve and what should have been one of the most important goals of everyone involve, the company is out over $2,400 a year in revenue from a once loyal customer and is now spending countless-hours trying to rebuild a relationship that had taken years to solidify.
When a company has both employees and independent distributors, they may not always realize that they need to head in the same direction. The vision for both groups must be in sync and it must come from the top. Once both parties have a clear, unified vision of the goals of the company, everyone performs better.
People in teams need a common goal to work toward. A vision that everyone can clearly see and get behind. If everyone on the team is out there freelancing and doing whatever they think is best, your results will be mixed at best. Regular collaboration with the various groups in your business is essential to its success.
Feeling Less Important
Another issue that must be addressed is when independent agents feel like they are less important than the employees of the business. Some companies put off the vibe that the independent people are less important in the grand scheme of things. In reality, collaboration between the company and the independent contractors is critical and can make a huge difference. The goal should be to make any independent agents feel like they are just as important as anyone else in the group. If you can achieve that level of synergy, there’s no telling how far you can go.
One of the best things you can do as a leader is to give your people belonging queues. A belonging queue is something that tells your people, “your part of this team.” it makes them feel like they belong and that they are valued. These can come in many forms and all of them can add up, to contribute to the success of the company.
Something as simple as, weekly phone calls to your top leaders, company shirts with your logo on them or a clear and inclusive company mission statement, can make someone feel like they belong. Listening to people and making them feel like their input is valued also goes a long way. Caring about them as a person and getting to know them also makes them feel like they belong.
Regardless of how you approach the task of making all your people feel like they belong, it is essential to your success. If you can blur the line between employee and independent distributors, people will start working together as if they were all on the same team. Ultimately, the success that you’re able to achieve will be determined by how much you make people feel like they’re part of your team. Spend some time thinking about ways you can involve everyone and get them on the same page, and the sky is the limit.
Here’s a great presentation on company culture. How to build and keep it.