Investigating the Links Between Performance and Collaboration

Use Cases & Projects Francois Courtet

This is a guest blog post from our friends at Akoya, a strategy consulting firm dedicated to human capital in companies. They assist their clients in the transformation of businesses and organizations, the exploitation of HR data and innovation in HR processes and tools.

Seeking Increased Performance Through Collaboration

Many companies consider collaboration a key lever for performance and often promote it within their teams. However, performance and collaboration — which are far from being synonymous — can interfere with each other in the event of inefficient collaboration. One of our clients in the financial sector wanted to decipher this trend to ultimately improve collaboration within its organization, while simultaneously optimizing performance. The process, from initial steps to performance results, are outlined in this blog post.

In the context of this particular company, the sales team's feedback was crucial to the marketing team’s efficiency and, conversely, the marketing team’s knowledge of the products was highly beneficial to their sales counterparts. Our client anticipated that stronger collaboration and performance amongst these two teams would generate greater margins and higher revenues. Thus, the two departments — which represent more than 300 employees across the four operational entities that make up the company — were chosen as pilots to investigate if (and how) collaboration can, in fact, improve performance.

Performing a Collaborative Network Analysis to Identify the Collaboration Patterns

To understand the impact of collaboration on performance, we estimated collaboration levels using information from Gmail and Google Agenda, mainly exchanged emails and attended meetings. On the other hand, performance was assessed based on several key indicators, from financial metrics to individual performance ratings. Eventually, we mapped a collaborative network that we statistically analyzed in respect to both individual and team performance.

Even in the Digital Age, Face-to-Face Collaboration Boosts Performance

We observed that collaboration, in broad terms, was not a direct indicator of performance:

  • Collaboration did increase the team’ performance, but didn’t necessarily ladder down to impact individual performance.
  • Most importantly, only face-to-face interactions were key levers of the teams’ performance, whereas digital collaboration had little to no impact.

For us, these conclusions help to clarify the impact of collaboration on the company’s performance at various scales. Ultimately, we provided the company with valuable insights on the level of collaboration between the teams and enabled our client to identify the best axes for improvement and insights it can use to review, strategize, and improve its collaboration practices. According to our calculations, optimizing the collaboration practices in favor of predominantly face-to-face interactions could increase the sales and marketing teams’ performance by almost 20%.

Sometimes, though, physical interactions are not possible (e.g. remote work), yet the previous conclusion remains all the more true. In order to help bridge this gap of physical collaboration, digital face-to-face interactions become crucial and far more efficient than email or chat flooding. Numerous teleconference tools exist on the market and, with some virtual collaboration best practices, teams can maximize their collaborative efforts and overall performance.

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