The Collaboration Advantage for SMBs

How collaborative is your business? Do you tend to favor and reward individual accomplishments or team achievements? And how does your corporate collaboration culture affect your business? These are just a few of many questions we asked in the recently completed SMB Group and CRM Essentials 2011 SMB Collaboration and Communications Study, in which we queried more than 800 SMBs (small business is 1-99 employees; medium business is 100-999 employees) decision-makers and influencers about:

  • How they collaborate
  • What collaborations solutions they use/plan to use
  • Business benefits of using collaboration solutions
  • Integration requirements for collaboration solutions
  • The impact of social media and mobility on collaboration requirements
  • The shift from standalone solutions to integrated collaboration suites
  • Collaboration suite brands considered and selected

Featured Study Highlights To provide perspective on their use of collaboration solutions, we asked respondents to assess how they characterize the collaboration culture within their companies, including “Which statement best describes your company’s culture when it comes to collaboration?”  Here are the results (Figure 1):In the small business segment, we found things tipping somewhat more towards rewarding individuals rather than teams:

  • 48% said that they recognize individual and team accomplishments equally
  • 23% are more likely to reward individual accomplishments than team achievements
  • 17% are more likely to reward team accomplishments than individual achievements

Meanwhile, medium businesses were are evenly pretty evenly split in terms of how they described their collaborative culture:

  • 34% recognize individual and team accomplishments equally
  • 33% reward individual accomplishments over team achievements
  • 31% reward team achievements over individual ones

Not surprisingly, when we look at more discrete segments (1-4, 5-9, 10-19, etc.), we see that as company size grows, teamwork becomes more important and collaborative accomplishments garner more favor. Figure 1: SMB Corporate Collaboration Culture Source: SMB Group, October 2011 Does Collaboration Culture Make a Difference?Survey results reveal that the answer is yes. Small businesses that reward team achievements over individual ones are:

  • 13% more likely to be forecasting revenue growth than those that reward equally, and 6% more than those that reward Individuals more
  • 7% more likely to be satisfied with achieving business goals than those that reward equally, and 10% more than those that reward Individuals more

This gap widens as company size increases. Medium businesses that reward team achievements over individual ones are:

  • 12% more likely to be forecasting revenue growth than those that reward equally, and 19% more than those that reward Individuals more
  • 22% more likely to be satisfied with achieving business goals than those that reward equally, and 38% more than those that reward individuals more

Quick TakeA company’s affinity for collaboration and teamwork amounts to more than just a feel-good group hug. As SMBs grow, their affinity for teamwork and collaboration–or lack of it–make a bigger and bigger difference in terms of corporate financial performance as well as their satisfaction in achieving business goals. SMBs that consciously evolve to become more collaborative in terms of how they manage their businesses and incent and motivate employees gain a decided edge over less teamwork-oriented counterparts. Vendors that sell collaboration and communication solutions to SMBs should also pay attention to these findings, as study results indicate that:

  • Small businesses that identify as rewarding team achievements over individual ones are 14% more likely to adopt/plan to adopt an integrated collaboration platform than those that reward equally, and 6% more likely than those that reward Individuals more.
  • Medium businesses that favor team achievements are 20% more likely to adopt/plan to adopt an integrated collaboration platform than those that reward equally and 6% more likely than those that reward Individuals more.

And across the board, the companies that favor and reward a team-centric approach spend more on collaboration solutions than less collaborative counterparts.

Interested in learning about the top 10 collaboration tools that small businesses use today, and the top 10 they plan to add in the next year? Check out the Top 10 Collaboration Tools Small Businesses Use Today–and the Top 10 They Plan to Add, which discusses findings in this area from the 2011 SMB Collaboration and Communications Study.

2 Responses

  1. I like your post Laurie. Unfortunately I work for a huge company that doesn’t reward teamwork at all, & rewards individual accomplishments with 2% raises or less in non-recession times. Thank you for providing this research for us.

    • You’re welcome, and ‘m glad you liked the post. Its so unfortunate when companies don’t reward team accomplishments–not just from the employee point of view, but as you see in the data, from a corporate revenue perspective. I worked at a company once that didn’t reward team achievements at all–and it was a horrible work environment.

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