Taking steps to foster an environment of collaboration, mentoring, and continuous learning gives companies a competitive advantage.

The results are in: Learning matters to employees. According to the 2021 Monster Job Index, 80% of professionals do not think their current employer provides growth opportunities. Another study from Better Buys found that 92% of employees believe having access to professional development is very important or important.

Organizations are increasingly looking for new ways to utilize digital tools and practices to create winning teams. At the same time, business competition only continues to grow more challenging. Staying ahead of the pack requires careful consideration.

This article looks at some of the best practices for organizations who want to build winning teams by increasing collaboration and creating a culture of mentoring and continuous learning.

Break Down Barriers to Collaboration

Most organizations are built with a very structured and intentional hierarchy in place. At face value, there is certainly nothing wrong with this — it rewards employees for sustained success. However, the traditional corporate structure can create organizational siloes. The result is employees who do not share and collaborate as much as they could, which creates a culture of groupthink and rigid thinking.

Companies that work proactively to break down these siloes can create cultures that embrace cross-functional learning. By breaking down the barriers to communication that can often exist between departments, you can create a collaborative workforce that benefits all. When a sales team better understands the strengths and capabilities of the marketing organization, and a marketing department better understands the needs and focus of the sales team, it can create a cyclical effect of continuous learning and enablement that drives results.

Breaking down these barriers is not as complex as you may think. It often starts with intentionality, meaning taking proactive steps to establish lines of communication and get teams working together. Brainstorming sessions, group chat channels, and lunch and learns can go a long way in starting the lines of communication. Once communication is kick-started, the results speak for themselves and lead to increased synergy and sustained results.

Build a Structure Around Learning

Sometimes it can be challenging to make time for continuous education. It must be a foundational aspect of your company culture for channel partners that want to encourage their employees to learn new skills, adopt new technologies, and find ways to collaborate with other teams. A great step toward making this happen is by building a structure around learning. Set time aside every month for employees to dedicate to learning a new skill. Host sessions on hot topic items that will help drive results for your organization. Make attending a conference and sharing takeaways a part of your employees’ performance objectives. By building structure around learning opportunities, you accomplish two things:

  1. You make it easier for employees to engage in learning activities because they will have time dedicated to doing so.
  2. You help create a culture clearly centered on learning — something that helps establish continuous education as a priority for your employees.

Mentoring Can Go Both Ways

While junior employees often are interested in establishing mentor/mentee relationships with more seasoned colleagues, it can be short-sighted to look at the mentor relationship as a one-way street. While it is likely that tenured employees have a better understanding of your organization, it is also likely that more junior employees may bring with them relevant skills and knowledge that can help strengthen your teams. Look for opportunities to create cyclical learning where junior employees are given opportunities to share their insights and knowledge with the team as well. Not only does this open the door to unexpected learning opportunities, but it also can help build ownership, camaraderie, and loyalty among teams — boosting employee morale and decreasing turnover rates.

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