Does your company only reward individual results? It should reward collaboration, too.

A new study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College, shows that high-performance organizations are up to 5.5x more likely than lower-performers to incentivize individual, team, and leader effectiveness in collaboration.

The study of more than 1,100 companies—two-thirds of which include collaboration as a stated organizational value—found that the difference between productive and unproductive collaboration can be summed up in one word: purpose. It’s the purposeful pursuit of collaboration that is the primary reason high-performance organizations such as Patagonia—one of four companies highlighted in the study—can leverage collaboration to achieve desired business outcomes.

Purposeful Collaboration: The Essential Components for Collaborative Cultures is the first in a series of executive briefs based on the study that will explore collaboration via leadership, workplace, and talent practices, providing models and recommendations to drive purposeful collaboration—in other words, productive and healthy collaboration—and avoid collaboration overload—in which productivity is inhibited by employees who feel overburdened by requests.

One such recommendation is to establish and reinforce performance goals for teams that emphasize the importance of collaboration.

“The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration. Yet, most talent management systems are designed to reward individual achievement, not team accomplishments,” said Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer, i4cp. “Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.”

Says Prof. Rob Cross, “When we look at networks within companies, three to five percent of people account for 20 to 35% of the value-added ties, yet if we compare our lists of who these critical people are against who the company is paying attention it—who is getting the biggest bonuses or in the top talent programs—there’s typically only a 50% overlap. What we’re learning is that by applying more of a collaborative focus around what creates high performers, we can figure out how to manage talent differently in a much finer tuned way.”

Only about one-quarter of the organizations studied align effective collaboration with their employee performance management processes. However, high-performance organizations are emphasizing collaboration in performance goals 3x to 5.5x more than the rest.

The executive brief is available exclusively to i4cp member organizations.

We're also hosting a webinar on Thursday, July 27, in which i4cp co-founder and futurist Jay Jamrog will discuss the research in more detail.