The ESI International survey on the links between collaboration and performance at work reveal a big contradiction: while most Canadian companies (65.5%) recognize the benefits of teamwork, barely a quarter (27.8%) work collaboratively.
To explain this trend, the study puts forward the rigidity of work structures. Half of respondents (54.6%) do not systematically work in teams for a simple reason: their work structure depends on a project, team or sponsor. In addition, 9.9% said they work in a hierarchical structure in which collaboration between project team members is either very low or non-existent.
The acquisition of skills to improve teamwork is also an important point, since 61.6% of companies polled said they do not provide sufficient training, although most recognize the need to do so (in both business and technical skills). Respondents said that the skills essential for teamwork include communication (80.9%), leadership (49.6%) and critical thinking (47.3%).
According to the ESI International study, there is a deep divide between the idea of collaboration and reality. To remedy the situation, it recommends providing team members with balanced business and technical training, and includes a list of best practices to strengthen teamwork, such as more autonomy within projects, well-defined team roles and the right mix of business and technical skills. These efforts should lead to more collaboration, better project/initiative outcomes and higher overall business impact.
This survey was conducted between August and September 2011 with 895 respondents including directors, managers and staff in sectors including government, financial services, information technology, energy and telecommunications.