Who Cares About Collaboration?
Why is collaboration so important? It’s a buzzword that gets tossed around the office. It may result in a few managers getting excited, a training program being arranged, and an afternoon of collaboration cheerleading. Too often, the next day, employees wonder what it all meant and still don’t know why they should care about collaboration.
But we should care about collaboration! The problems we face today are much more complex than they have been in the past, and they require various players to come to the table. We need the skill set offered by both the hard and soft business areas, and their varying approaches and technical backgrounds, to develop successful solutions to today’s complex business problems.
So out with tired collaboration rhetoric, and in with practical skill building that will give your organization an edge in 2012. Imagine yourself in 2013, looking back on this year, and seeing workplace problems resolved because your people were better collaborators than last year. Consider starting out 2012 with a practical goal of fostering actual collaboration in your organization. Here’s how you can start:
Integrate collaboration into onboarding new hires and promoting existing employees. In the US, we tend to foster individual success before encouraging participation in groups and teams. What can you do to show that your organization values teamwork? Consider branding teams and talking about them, rather than just individual achievements, at your weekly meeting. How many times within a typical meeting do you highlight collaborative efforts that are taking place in your organization? Collaboration may have a PR problem. Give it more publicity and watch it grow.
Actively support mentoring activities. It can be difficult to ensure that mentoring programs succeed if there is no follow-up to initial program set-up. Help your workplace foster the cross-pollination of skills by bringing people with vastly differing skills together. For example, you could give a more experienced and less technically savvy worker the opportunity to learn from a younger, more technically-adept employee. At the same time, the more experienced employee can share their core skills, such as the ability to manage multiple projects.
Make collaboration part of the performance measurement process. Regardless of existing performance measurement tools, positive mentions about cooperative skills, specifically during performance management meetings, go a long way.
Join the next watershed HRDQ Webinar. You’ll learn the essentials of Matrix Management, a key to becoming a master collaborator; find out how to persuade others to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes; and learn tips for facilitating cross-functional problem solving.
James Eicher, Author, Leader and Expert
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
from 2pm-3pm EST