The answer without asking should be YES. Reason being as Evan Rosen, author of The Culture of Collaboration and executive director of The Culture of Collaboration® Institute discusses in his Business Week article Every Worker is a Knowledge Worker “If you’re not soliciting input from the employees who haul boxes, assemble products, and drive delivery trucks, you’re missing out on profitable ideas”.
In this article Rosen differentiates collaborative organizations as those that recognize the importance of engaging all levels of workers in decision making rather than those with management teams that make decisions in a vacuum. The collaborative organization values all workers knowledge and leverages this information to improve produce, process and ultimately their success.
In addition, to the collection and application of information from all level of ‘knowledge worker’ (those defined as such and those not!) is the idea of access. If you wash dishes in the kitchen do you have the opportunity to engage the VP of operations in a conversation, or to share an idea? If not, you should. Access prevents the chain of command, lost in translation transfer of information that has been proven inefficient and ineffective – particularly if creativity and innovation are primary goals in your organization.
The article culminated in a list of 5 steps any organization can take to desegregate the workforce and promote collaboration:
1. Institute information democracy. Give everybody access to the same data and information. While you may need to restrict access to highly sensitive information, such as HR records and product formulas, adopt policies that favor information democracy over denied access. Information democracy encourages sharing over hoarding and sparks collaboration across functions and business units.
2. Break down barriers among levels. Give everybody access to everybody else within the organization. If a worker on the factory floor needs to engage a senior vice-president, the organization encourages that interaction. If a business unit leader needs real-time information from a specific sales territory, that leader can directly engage a salesperson, without cultural fallout.
3. Use information technology to enable spontaneous collaboration. Adopt unified communications and enable one-click access from corporate directories, business productivity applications, and specialized applications so that every team member has immediate access to everybody else. Team members can then launch an instant messaging session and escalate that interaction to a voice call, Web conference, or videoconference. So everybody knows who all the players are regardless of their location—and they gain the ability to engage them.
4. Involve front-line people in decisions. Pay everybody to think. When people contribute to decisions, they have a stake in those decisions. And it works both ways. Often senior leaders are inhibited from engaging people on the front lines even though they need a front-line person’s knowledge in real time to make the right decision. His or her position may be three levels below that of the people making the decision. And there’s no time to go through channels. The executives never hear the front-line expert’s voice, and the decision suffers.
5. Recognize and reward broad input. Put the organization’s money where its mouth is by tying raises and promotions to gaining broad input. Include a module in performance evaluations to gauge whether managers are making decisions in a vacuum or in concert with people across functions and levels. Recognize leaders who tap the knowledge of front-line people and reward leaders for including input from across the organization in making decisions.
How does your organization measure up?