How to Build a Collaborative Work Environment at Your Startup

The first step in starting any business is an idea. An idea is the seed that every startup grows from, but this alone won’t ensure that your business will be successful. In fact, nearly half of all new businesses failwithin their first five years of operation. A whole host of factors contribute to the growth and development of a company. One of the most important factors in growing any company is establishing a collaborative work environment. This is particularly important for startup companies, which usually consist of only a few employees working in close proximity to one another. Communication is key, and out-of-the-box ideas can lead to exciting, unexpected possibilities. So how can you build a collaborative work environment at your startup?

Here are seven tips:

1.Respect your employees.

After all, good employees are what keeps any company running smoothly. Give them compelling reasons to stay with your organization. Experiment with different employee retention strategies, such as providing them with benefits, rewarding them for outstanding performance, and giving them opportunities to grow.

2. Act like a leader.

As a leader, set the example for the rest of the office. Show up every day with a good attitude, work hard, and make a genuine effort to connect with those around you. Act as a mentor and coach for your employees, and listen to them when they come to you with ideas, comments, or concerns. Ultimately, the success of any startup largely relies on the skills of its leadership.

3. Create a common purpose.

Come up with a clear mission that your employees can identify with and be passionate about. Do you as a leader really believe in the values of the company? Do you have a sense of how your company stands out and what you’re working towards in the long term?  By presenting your employees with your idealized vision of what the company could look like further down the road, you can show them in concrete terms what the future may hold if they commit to working as a team.

4. Set clear goals and expectations.

Establish goalsfor both the company as a whole and your individual employees. Make sure your goals are clear, specific, and realistic— setting goals that are impossible to achieve will just result in demoralization. Spend time analyzing your progress so that you can adjust these goals as needed. It’s also important to celebrate when you do reach big goals or milestones, in order to foster a sense of fun and unity within the company. Reward employees who meet and exceed goals with bonuses, gifts, vacations, and other incentives.

5. Encourage everyone to share ideas.

Be open to new ideas and take the time to listen to employees’ thoughts and feedback. When your employees are comfortable sharing their ideas in a non-judgmental environment, they will feel empowered and confident. Additionally, you can put the best ideas to good use and make your company even more prosperous.

6. Develop a sense of community.

Encourage a social environment where employees can get to know one another, both inside and outside the office. Treat them to company lunches or happy hours. Host fun events that add to a collaborative atmosphere like ping pong tournaments, Taco Tuesdays, or “Bring Your Pet to Work”day. Give employees the option to work from home when possible, saving them time and stress.

7. Identify the strengths of those around you.

Identify the strengths of each individual employee and give them tasks that complement these strengths. This will add to the productivity of your business while also providing your employees with a sense of purpose. They will know exactly what role they play in the larger structure of the company, and this knowledge will help them recognize their own value, in addition to the value of those around them.

A collaborative work environment isn’t something that will grow overnight. It will certainly take time and effort for you to implement all of these tips and create meaningful professional relationships with your employees. However, the effort will be worth it because, in the end, you will have taken steps towards creating a more successful and thriving company made up of people who are proud to be a part of it.

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