Let’s Collaborate

Let’s Collaborate

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” —George Bernard Shaw

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

 

        Collaboration

Collaboration brings us together to work towards a shared objective. If we can collaborate effectively we increase our chances for success. Collaborating with others offers us the opportunity to be part of something larger than ourselves.

We can achieve more together than the sum of what we can achieve individually. Successful collaboration creates win-win situations where all parties benefit. People are most productive and satisfied at work when they feel supported, rewarded, and aligned with the work they are doing. Effective collaboration puts the right people in right roles and provides them with the voice, support, and encouragement needed to be successful. Here are a few factors impact your odds of collaborating successfully.

                Culture

The culture of your organization will either foster or destroy collaboration. The culture should promote the attitude that there is always something new to be discovered. You never know where the next great idea will come from. A healthy culture encourages employees to ask questions. It challenges employees to wonder what might be possible if we work together. Collaboration helps us to feel energized and connected as we work in a team environment. Develop a culture that engages employees to participate in collaboration without competing with each other. Encourage the development of the authentic connections between colleagues that builds a sense of community. Promote a culture that encourages and rewards collaboration and advances a shared vision to guide collaborative efforts.

                       Relationships

Successful collaboration is dependent on building strong, authentic relationships. These relationships allow us to influence and inspire others. Get to know colleagues on a personal basis. Always treat each other with respect. Use your relationships to develop a spirit of cooperation and offer encouragement and support.

                       Communication

Communication connects us with others and is a key factor in effective collaboration. Communication should always be respectful. In a collaborative environment people should be given a voice to express themselves in a constructive manner. Encourage others to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Clearly communicate shared goals and objectives. Resolve disagreements quickly and in a respectful manner. And, remember to express appreciation for the contributions of team members.

                       Trust

Trust is an important component of any successful collaboration. The collaborative environment must reduce the fear of judgment that hinders participation and productivity. Develop an atmosphere that encourages others to share ideas in a safe and respectful environment. Show compassion for colleagues. Set an example of how to treat others and how to work together effectively. Treat colleagues as equals. Develop a code of conduct so that situations are handled consistently and fair.

       Focus

To collaborate effectively the team should focus on cooperation and developing connections between members. Every participant should be encouraged to bring the best of themselves to the table. To be successful, teams should focus their energy on outcomes not problems. Create a Collaborative environment with shared objectives that focus on what’s best for the organization as a whole.

Take-Away

You must build collaboration into the culture of your organization. The culture should empower individuals to work together to accomplish more than would be possible if they were working alone. A positive, collaborative environment encourages team members to share opinions and ideas, promotes cooperation, and develops strategic partnerships.

When we work together we can accomplish more that we ever could working individually. When we join forces we all win. Now, everyone, roll up your sleeves and let’s collaborate.

 

© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli

 

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Author: lizstincelli

I am Liz Stincelli and I am passionate about recognizing, inspiring, and igniting the leader in each of us. I am the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where I specialize in helping management teams learn new ways of looking at problems and finding new approaches to discovering solutions. I hold a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership. I offer 20+ years of pro-active operations management, problem-solving, team-building, human resources, accounting, and business administration experience in a variety of industries. I serve on the Editorial Review Board for the Independent Journal of Management and Production and the Journal of Managerial Psychology. I have also been a guest lecturer at the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Westminster College. You can learn more about me by reading my blog here at: www.stincelliadvisors.com or www.engagenow.me. Connect with me on Twitter @infinitestin, google.com/+ElizabethStincelli on Google+, and https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizstincelli on LinkedIn. You can contact me by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Collaborate”

  1. This is a great discussion. I agree that instilling a culture of collaboration as you build an organization will get you the collaborative results you desire. You can bring in people who have the collaborator mindset and act accordingly, set up the processes and codes of conduct, and establish the structure for effective collaboration. There is no baggage, no counterculture to sabotage the organization. Trying to change the culture of an existing organization is much more difficult. However, the existing ones in need of this culture change far outnumber the new organizations leaders are creating today. I find it very difficult to redesign an existing organization into a collaborative work environment even if people inside the organization see the potential benefits. The biggest obstacle I see is how people handle knowledge. In the organizations I have worked in, knowledge is a commodity that people hoard and sell only when it benefits them. Do you see this as a significant obstacle as well? If so, how have you convinced an organization to change their culture from a knowledge-hoarding one to a knowledge sharing one?

    1. You are spot on. I find that many organizations still embrace the good-old-boy mind set. In this type of environment knowledge is considered a personal commodity and is held close to the vest. As you mentioned, it is very difficult to cultivate collaboration in an culture like this. I think the most promising option is to begin educating the up-and-coming leaders and fostering a sub-par ture of collaboration. Hopefully these young leaders will bring a collaborative culture with them as they progress through the ranks.
      I’d love to hear any additional ideas you may have.

      1. Liz,
         
        You captured a key leader behavior that I have used in the past to develop a collaborative environment in a hierarchical and compartmentalized organization. That is identifying the collaboration mindset from within the ranks and enabling it to bloom. I must caveat this by saying the environment did indeed develop but it did not expand as I thought it would.
        I was a senior manager in organization of about 400 employees. I lead a division of about 80 analysts providing strategic assessments. We had another division of similar size that provided more tactical analyses. Both divisions looked at similar information but applied it differently based on our client’s requirements. Feedback from both of the division’s clients stated that they needed additional information. The tactical client wanted a strategic look and the strategic client wanted to know more tactical information. Since my parent organization was compartmentalized, I did not see the feedback from my fellow division chief’s client and she did not see mine.
        Analysts from our respective divisions happened to attend a meeting where a discussion on our products and client’s needs occurred. These individuals had the collaborator mindset, shared feedback from their clients, and took it upon themselves to brainstorm a possible solution to meet both sets of clients needs. They brought this up to my fellow division chief and I and we let them run with it. This effort resulted in a more enriched product that they produced faster than our current products.
        I was emboldened by the analysts’ collaborative behavior. I saw this as an opportunity to break down walls and cross over boundaries. However, this did not happen. The collaborative effort only occurred within our two groups. It did not expand into the greater organization.
        Years later, I now know why the collaborative environment did not expand. I had the chance to interview Larry Prusak, a knowledge management guru, during my Master’s program for a paper. He identified the fact that collaborative and learning behaviors will not flourish unless organizations change the way they measure success. He stated most organizations measure successful performance with financial measurements such as return on sales, revenue, new client contracts, profit, gross contribution etc. Executives place these metrics in leader performance plans and reward based on how each leader achieves their goals. Additionally, the plans are episodic, looking at quarterly or even monthly performance, which incentivizes leaders to achieve financial goals at all costs as quickly as they can. Leaders therefore perceive collaboration as taking too much time and effort. In conclusion, Mr. Prusak said that a collaborative culture would not grow if the collaborative behaviors were not how leaders measure successful performance. I agree with his hypothesis and can see how my organizations lack of collaborative behavior performance measurements stymied the expansion of the collaborative culture. What do you think of Mr. Prusak’s theory?

      2. Chris,

        I love Mr. Prusak’s theory. I think he has hit the nail on the head. Thank you for sharing this story. I am going to integrate his theory into how I evaluate and advise on collaboration. Fantastic!

  2. Reblogged this on chrisalbrycht and commented:
    Great discussion on how to create a collaborative organization. Culture, trust, communication, and authentic relationships help foster collaboration. To be successful in the global economy, organizations need to transform their cultures to embrace collaboration.

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