Collaborative Management: Characteristics and Processes

Updated June 24, 2022

As a manager or supervisor, it may be your responsibility to ensure effective collaboration between your management team and employees. Coordinated efforts across these departments are an essential part of optimizing the functions of an organization for success. Understanding collaborative management and how to apply its processes to your current methods may help you improve the productivity of your team, enhance communication and overcome challenges through unity. In this article, we define collaborative management, discuss its characteristics and benefits and describe the collaborative management process.

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What is collaborative management?

Collaborative management is the coordination of efforts between managers, supervisors and employees to attain common objectives. In a collaborative management environment, a team of managers or supervisors work together with their employees to ensure the success of an organization, instead of appointing management responsibilities to a single individual.

Collaborative management allows supervisors to work together using a variety of management techniques to promote unity and teamwork within an organization. Collaborative management may help organizations improve their functions by allowing managers to combine their strengths with the strengths of their employees, collectively overcome challenges as a team and enhance the efficiency and productivity of business operations.

Related: Innovation Management: Definition, Key Areas, Methods and Risks

Characteristics of collaborative management

There are a few key characteristics of collaborative management, including:

Active participation

A prominent characteristic of collaborative management is the active participation by all levels of management and employees. Collaborative management encourages the input and opinions of each member of an organization and encourages collective participation in essential organization functions. This could include the planning, implementing and monitoring of company projects, discussions about important organizational decisions and meetings about the values and mission of the company.

High level of honesty

Collaborative management promotes a high level of honest communication between managers, supervisors and employees. Because management and employees work together to achieve mutual objectives, they often engage in open, effective communication to succeed in their efforts. Honest communication between leadership and staff members is a powerful way to build trust, promote discussion and maintain positive relationships in the workplace.

Mutual decision-making

In a collaborative environment, managers and employees make unified decisions to achieve their goals and contribute to the success of their organization. This key characteristic of collaborative management ensures that the opinions of each staff member, from employee to upper management, have value and influence during important decision-making processes.

Team-based solutions

Another key characteristic of collaborative management assists in the overcoming of challenges or barriers in the workplace. When a collaborative organization encounters a challenge or setback, the entire team of management and employees contributes to seeking a solution. Not only does this allow for innovative thinking, but it also ensures that the solutions implemented benefit each member of the organization.

Continual feedback

Collaborative leadership often encourages managers and their employees to work closely with one another daily. This daily collaboration allows for continual feedback, instead of the traditional model of monthly or annual performance evaluations. Receiving immediate feedback may help employees and managers perform to the best of their abilities and make improvements to their processes more quickly than in traditional methods of performance reviews.

Related: How To Increase Collaboration in the Workplace

Advantages of collaborative management

There are several benefits and advantages of incorporating collaborative management into your existing processes because it:

Strengthens relationships

Employees may work more frequently as a team under collaborative management styles, which may present more opportunities for connection and the development of positive workplace relationships. When members of a team bond with one another, they may be more productive or successful in their collaborative efforts. These connections may also create high levels of loyalty and communication within teams and could result in an improvement in products, services and innovative processes.

Integrates new employees

A collaborative work environment may assist in integrating new employees into an organization. When members of a team support each other and collaborate to complete tasks, new members of the team may feel welcomed and able to easily adapt to their responsibilities. This could help shorten the amount of time needed for training and onboarding, allowing new employees to become productive contributors shortly after joining the team.

Creates shorter delivery times

Collaborative management styles may empower employees to focus on completing tasks that are best suited to their talents and strengths. This allows the quality of group projects and initiatives to increase because teams spend less time compensating for weaknesses and spend more time fostering the strengths of each team member. In turn, this may help to increase productivity, shorten delivery times and reduce time spent on review and revision. By delivering high-quality, timely products and services to customers and clients collaborative management may help increase customer satisfaction.

Promotes thoughtful decisions

Collaborative management is unique because it allows the opinions of each employee to have value during decision-making processes. This may provide an opportunity for organizations to make thoughtful decisions that benefit the company and their valued team members. Thoughtful decision-making that accounts for the well-being and recognition of each individual is an important part of ensuring employee satisfaction, maintaining positive company culture and promoting the success of an organization.

Improves workplace morale

Often, a collaborative work environment allows team members to learn from each other, work together to solve problems and build positive relationships. This may contribute to an inclusive and encouraging workplace and could help to boost employee morale. Satisfied employees who feel valued and welcome within their organization may result in less employee turnover, increased productivity and enhanced quality of products and services.

Encourages creativity

In a collaborative style of management, employees are able to express their creativity and innovation in order to better their processes and improve the results of their efforts. New ideas formed from this valued sense of innovation may provide insight into revolutionary ways for organizations to improve their existing practices. Allowing employees to explore their creativity in the workplace is also a great way to maintain positive employee relationships, improve company morale and promote new methods of success.

Creates equal responsibility

Collaborative management may have an important part in creating an equal division of responsibilities. The process of working as a unit to achieve mutual objectives naturally divides the workload equally among the participants and allows for support when questions or barriers arise. Collaborative styles of management may help to ensure that each member of the team feels comfortable with their amount of responsibility and has access to the resources needed for success. In turn, this may increase efficiency and productivity and could improve the quality of products and services.

Related: 9 Steps To Building a Successful Culture of Collaboration

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Collaborative management process

Collaborative management processes often involve managing through mutual objectives agreed upon by management and the employees of an organization. This process, known as management by objectives (MOB), involves the following steps:

1. Review organization objectives

The first step toward successful collaborative management through objectives is defining and reviewing the objectives of your organization. The objectives determined in this phase often focus on the betterment of the organization as a whole and may involve specific, measurable goals or milestones. The goals of an organization may involve sales initiatives, marketing goals, client relationships, improving policies and procedures or making positive changes to company culture.

2. Set employee objectives

After determining the objectives of the organization, you may begin to brief employees on the general objectives, plans and strategies for achieving them. Then, you may work with your individual employees to determine their specific goals that will contribute to the success of the organization's objectives. This is often a small group discussion between managers and individual employees, and the goals, strategies and plans devised during this meeting often maximize the strengths and talents of the employee.

This is also a great opportunity for employees to share their opinions about how they plan to achieve their goals, the resources they expect to require in order to be successful and any additional thoughts or ideas they may want to contribute to the discussion.

3. Monitor progress

Monitoring the progress of employees at incremental phases of completion is an important part of ensuring their success. To do this, you may schedule one-on-one meetings during important milestones to discuss the employee's perception of their progress, address any resources or support they may need for continued success and provide feedback on their work so far.

4. Evaluate performance

Within the MBO framework, managers work closely with their employees to evaluate performance continually rather than at incremental phases. This allows employees to apply feedback immediately to their processes, instead of waiting for monthly or annual meetings to determine their success. Using the feedback gathered from continual performance evaluation, employees are able to make modifications and improvements to their methods to ensure the successful completion of their tasks.

5. Reward success

An important part of collaborative management through objectives is rewarding the successful efforts of your employees. Rewards for success could include public praise, additional compensation or benefits or employee appreciation events. Rewarding your employees for achieving their objectives and contributing to the success of the organization is a great way to show your appreciation for their efforts, maintain positive relationships and improve company culture.

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