Melissa Abramson
AUTHOR: Melissa Abramson
Apr 1, 2020 - 5 min read

Healthy Vs Unhealthy Collaboration Cultures in the Workplace

Every institution must have shared values and beliefs that govern actions and attitudes. Businesses are no exclusion from this fundamental requirement for survival and progress. It begins with the vision which is the driving force behind every collaborative activity. In order to achieve this vision, there must be sets of behaviors and actions to imbibe. That’s what the collaboration cultures are all about. 

Culture is purposive and there are two sides to it; the healthy and unhealthy. Of course, the expectation is always towards the positive side. Culture is evolutional especially in our digital age that comes with inevitable transformations. There is a tendency for collaborating employees to develop antagonistic attitudes and actions. So, it is important to know the healthy and unhealthy workplace cultures. 

Healthy Collaboration Cultures

Communication and Free Expression

Communication is probably the most important healthy workplace collaboration culture. Check your company structure and make sure it is flexible enough for communication flow. Good communication must be unhindered by hierarchy, gender or any form of discriminations. Everyone should have the freedom to have an open, honest and healthy conversation. Every opinion should count and every employee’s contribution needs to be considered important. There are lots of technologies to facilitate communication across distance, time and cultural barriers. If you have remote teams, you must include them in your meetings. Invest in the right technology to keep your teams communicating and collaborating.  

Friendly Atmosphere

The workplace doesn’t have to be all about serious work, meeting targets and being extremely formal. Encourage flexible and friendly social interactions amongst employees. Everyone must learn to communicate with respect and politeness. A friendly tone does not make instructions less important.nListen actively and attentively to them, show empathy to their plight. Try to remember birthdays and look out for the needs of your employees. You can add social events like office retreats and hangouts for a change. Anything that makes the environment emanate good vibes for work is encouraged. It fosters more hard work, collaboration and productivity.

The Celebration Culture

At the close of team projects, take time to celebrate your wins as a team. It’s very wrong to just move on to the next phase like nothing important happened. It’s not a waste of production time to celebrate what you’ve done. Thess kinds of celebrations motivate employees for the next phase. You need to encourage employees to celebrate each other and discourage jealousy. Of course, you can’t spend the whole day celebrating. Celebrations are not always about spending lots of money on parties and huge bonuses. It would be nice to hand out bonuses to deserving employees or hosting a party once in a while. Above all, celebrate not just your best results but your efforts and good intentions. 


Discipline and order is a healthy culture that every organization needs to have. Bad behaviour if unchecked grows like a wildfire especially in the workplace. First, there must be clearly defined ground rules. Employees will easily emulate unethical conducts when it comes from the top. It is the managers’ responsibility to keep employees in line. If the managers are the defaulters then the aim is obviously defeated. Thus, the first rule of discipline is to model the healthy attitudes you expect. To keep your culture in check you have to include a disciplinary culture. There must be rapid measures to punish or eliminate unethical employees. You can also try to reward disciplined employees. This should, however, bring no room for jealousy and unhealthy competition.

Unhealthy Collaboration Cultures

The Segmentation ‘Silos’

With more technological advancements, it’s expected that employees will be more interconnected. Unfortunately, a trend has been noticed especially in segmented teams or departments. The ‘silo effect’ is a trend that occurs when different departments fail to communicate. Sometimes departments working on the same project do not share ideas or progress reports. There is no way this can come out good for either of the parties involved. Without effective communication, there can be no collaboration. This segmentation hinders productivity, profitability and peaceful co-existence amongst units. If the whole team cannot communicate regularly, at least the team leads can.

The Unhealthy Competitiveness

Employees’ competitiveness is often encouraged as a progressive driving force. Competition can get unhealthy and this is the point where managers need to worry. In fact, this unhealthy competition is the killer of team collaboration. Sometimes, Managers create the atmosphere for this unhealthy competitiveness. Comparing employees’ competence with performance ratings is not always the right way. It can initiate a rapid and aggressive response together with employee rivalry. Every staff member was employed for their unique skills and competencies. The combination of their uniqueness is what drives the company forward. So, it should be about complementary actions and not destructive competitions.


 Employees are the most important components of your workplace culture. To develop desirable collaborative cultures, you need to teach them. Always teach and explain the reasons behind your company’s culture to new staff. Perhaps the reason some cultures are fast waning is that they are not properly transferred.