As more organisations recognise that agility, speed and responsiveness is needed to succeed in a fast-moving environment, how to collaborate to get others to help rather than compete with you becomes the overriding issue.
Even inside the same organisations, there is resistance to collaboration. In professional services firms especially, silo working with people guarding their customers, rather than sharing them with colleagues has been a long-standing norm. Getting different departments to share information, to share meetings or networking activities is sometimes a battle that to the outsider can seem somewhat insane. Yet inside the silos, there seems to be good rationalities why customers ought not to be shared, whether personal credibility being on the line, (meaning they don’t trust their colleagues to do good quality work) or that they don’t have reciprocal introductions to make to them.
Whatever the rationality, collaborating rather than not, will always bring better results. So how to do it, successfully?
It requires a mind-shift.
Trust, openness and a willingness to anticipate the best for all concerned is the mental and emotional foundation in which good dealings and behaviours are bred. This mindset is sustained by looking out for evidence that people are more motivated, more empowered and self-managing.
Take a leadership role in the process and establish the building blocks to creative collaboration by doing the following:
- Seek out competent people and strategic partners
- Build a shared ‘understood’ goal – understood by the members
- Designate clear roles and responsibilities
- Spend time in dialogue, grounded in the real problems and challenges
- Ensure there is a greater transparency of process and information and resources are shared more freely
- Create both shared and creative work spaces
- Load the project with ‘zest’ factors, ie fun and rewards!
- Continuously emphasise that all parties understand and buy-into the win-win-win scenarios for all
If you encounter resistance remind people that competitive interactions will often generate conflict and difficulties and that competitive interactions will lower productivity. But when everyone is seen as a valued and equal contributor to the business, results will be achieved through everyone’s efforts. If necessary, change the reward and recognition systems so they are tied to team-based performance and are recognised as such.
If collaboration is not the norm within your business (ie if it’s large) or as a methodology of working if you’re a small business, consider this process as a starting brainstorm for changing the mind-sets of your colleagues: Gather currently non-collaborating groups of people together and ask:
- Where are significant improvements needed
- Where are innovative results sought
- How could work be accomplished in cross-functional, virtual or other lateral teams
- How could accountability be shared, and hence have a higher likelihood of successful outcomes
- What would foster more positive, productive relationships
- What would create a more energising environment
- That would create more involvement and inclusion, so that work satisfaction increases
- How can we increase trust
- Where can we create more successful mergers and strategic business alliances
There are always situations, challenges and opportunities for collaboration in any organisation, so look for them and consider how collaboration can be brought into the mix of solutions.
11 June 2018