Collaboration Tips for Corporate Learning

Collaboration at work is one of those things we intuitively know will lead to quicker, more innovative, and higher quality solutions. And yet it's really tough to do. I got to thinking about this recently as our corporate learning & development team was honored with a "Learning in Practice" award from Chief Learning Officer magazine (a big congratulations to our fellow Bright Horizons winners from EdAssist, too). This particular award was for the use of technology in training. And it could not have happened without the effort, thought leadership, and capabilities of both of our training organizations: the one which primarily supports our operations group, and my team, which focuses on corporate training and provides central OD and L&D services like our corporate university and video trainings.

How To's: Collaboration Between Corporate Learning & Other Departments

There's no single secret to successful workplace collaboration. But, there are four things you can do to really help move it along.

Put company goals before the department's

There's often a grey area between who's responsible for what, and we can waste a lot of time letting that dictate what gets done. Instead, determine the right person for the job by identifying who has the energy and the vision to make something happen fast.

Embrace different work styles

It's easy to feel less inclined to work with another group because of small things: for example, their email style (maybe it's more abrupt than yours), or their differing sense of urgency. We need to get past these differences to benefit from the larger wins of cross-functional collaboration.

Solicit fresh thinking on projects

I was meeting with a cross-functional team recently regarding a new training program we're offering. We had a great program planned, but the proverbial frosting on the cake was the suggestion from one of the members of our marketing team about how we could incorporate a visual and kinetic element to the training (no surprise that this idea came from marketing!). Honestly, we wouldn't have thought of this on our own, and it added a fun new element to the entire experience.

Check all egos at the door

I once had an employee who wanted to make sure we were given credit for every project we worked on. It took her a few false starts to realize that this in fact builds animosity and competition. Quietly and modestly doing a good job is what ensures repeat business, certainly in our culture.

Working collaboratively takes deliberate effort to keep people in the loop, seek out new partners, and focus on the benefits of diverse thinking. But in the end, all of the time spent will be amply rewarded.

Written by: Helen Zarba

About the Author

Helen Zarba at Bright Horizons

As Vice President, Organizational Development & Learning Services, Helen oversees the corporate Learning and Development Function at Bright Horizons and is also responsible for maximizing the impact of the enterprise-wide integrated talent management suite. Helen has played a pivotal development role at Bright Horizons for eight years and previous to that worked in senior HR and Learning and Development roles in domestic, European, and EMEA environments for BMW, Gillette and P&G. Helen is passionate about increasing the strategic impact of learning and development interventions, and exploring the use of technology to replicate the power of a high touch culture.