A CEO’s Secret to Inspiring Productivity: Collaboration, Not Fear

Old-school motivation techniques primarily revolved around fear. We may not have called it “fear,” but rest assured that’s what it was. Knowing your boss was in the next room or could walk by at any moment kept employees on their toes. In fact, I’d bet most of us have worked for someone at a point in our careers who had all but mastered the surprise drive-by.

The message was clear: we’re always watching. We know when you’re working and when you aren’t, so you better always be working. The fear of being caught, called-out or, at worst, fired for a lack of production kept everyone heads-down on their projects.

Even if you wanted to cling to that mindset in today’s business climate, it’d be practically impossible. Work is no longer a place you go. The rise of mobility, flexible work options and telecommuting means that I can’t always look over someone’s shoulder to make sure they’re on task (and not on Facebook). The new wave of start-ups and entrepreneurs have created an entire culture of organizations that don’t adhere to “traditional” business practices and may not even have an office to call home.

The idea of the 9-to-5 is quickly losing steam, and we’re increasingly defined by the work we produce, not the length of time our butt is in a seat.

The boss isn’t in the next room anymore; in fact, he or she may not even be in the next country.

Collaboration as Motivation

The secret to inspiring productivity in this new results-driven, flexible and mobile workplace climate? Collaboration. How, when and why we work together is more important than ever before and defines productivity for modern businesses. Advances in communication and collaboration technologies allow us to work with managers, partners and team members scattered around the world. And these tools give us unprecedented visibility and access to the ideas and expertise of everyone within an organization.

Beyond the technology, your goal should be to create a culture of collaboration within your organization, encompassing the tools, practices and processes to facilitate communication, idea sharing and teamwork regardless of when or where the work gets done. Provide that culture, and the productivity will come. In a 2014 survey on Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture, when asked what motivates them to go the extra mile at work, respondents’ number one answer was “camaraderie and peer motivation.”

In other words, the people around us inspire us to greatness, not just the people above us. And collaboration is the key to bridging the gaps between peers in today’s workplace.

I may not be able to look over shoulders anymore, but more importantly, I no longer feel like I have to. Collaboration has created an environment where my teams are constantly connected, seamlessly working together to drive business results.

Boland T. Jones is the Founder, Chairman & CEO of PGi, the world’s largest pure-play provider of collaboration software and services.

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