Creating a culture centered around collaboration and communication will pay off dividends in the future.

There is no quick and easy way to build a culture. It takes time and effort, and everyone needs to be on board. EVERYONE. Determine who you are as an organization. What is your value proposition within the organization and to your external stakeholders? Create something your people can understand and get behind.

Step 1: Drop the buzzwords and develop something real and it all starts with making sure the actions and words of your leadership team reflect your commitment to collaboration and communication. How is this done? Hands-on leadership development. It is dangerous to assume that everyone knows how to communicate effectively. So, train your people. Communicate expectations. Role Play. Team Build. Do the work.

Personally, I love to present scenarios and role play how to apply collaborative communication to past events and conflicts. This is real life, so theories and scripts rarely work in a living and breathing workplace.

Step 2: Implement systems and programs that enable your workforce to communicate and collaborate. A word of advice here. If you value your people and employee engagement, please consider both introverts and extroverts when setting up new programs. Make events optional. Utilize technology and cloud-based collaboration tools. Adoption starts at the top so encourage (and incentivize) your leaders to participate often and enthusiastically.

Step 3: Infuse your talent management activities with it. Incorporate collaboration and communication into your rewards and recognition program. Acknowledge and reward individuals that have demonstrated these competencies during performance check-ins and evaluations. Ensure your succession plan places a high value on it as well.

Step 4: Build it into your talent acquisition strategy. Incorporate interview questions that allow the candidate to provide examples of their application of effective communication and collaboration in previous positions. “Tell me about a time” conversational questions work great here. Think problem, solution and outcome.

Step 5: Most importantly, recognize that you are your organization’s culture caretaker. Reflect it. Protect it.