Are you a Leader of Collaboration?

In last week’s #Tchat, we discussed the different between collaboration and polarization and the ways it was used in the workplace. Many contributors gave great examples of situations they’ve come across, their understanding of the two, and the reasons why they feel that an organization promotes one or the other. So, as usual, I’ll spend today’s blog post sharing all the input that this great community had offered through the hour long chat.

First off, let’s discuss the difference between the two. Collaboration is often considered the “coming together” of people and ideas to achieve a specific goal or purpose. It can easily be described as teamwork. Polarization is when individuals work individually towards a goal and/or do not share in the teamwork.

With the world moving so quickly, it would seem as if though a collaborative approach would be best for business. Having diverse thinking and additional teamwork can ensure that projects and goals are efficiently completed. Additionally, this can avoid groupthink or stale ideas, among other benefits. But why does collaboration seem to be a struggle within the workplace? How can we create a culture of collaboration? Leaders: it’s time for you to step up and start encouraging it.

Some ideas:

  • Follow the leader: as a leader, all eyes seem to be on you. This would be a perfect time for you to encourage collaboration by actually participating in collaboration meetings and situations yourself. Be transparent about it. Show your team that much can be done if you take the time to work with others. At the end, give them the results and tell them that it was accomplished because each member of the group played a crucial part.
  • Participate: take the time to make your rounds and participate in some of the meetings and groups that your workers are involved in, even if it’s only for a few minutes once in a while. Ask questions; learn about which each member is contributing; and give feedback.
  • Create a connection: I know sometimes it can be hard for a leader to know everything about their employees and their unhidden talent/potential. However, if you can have their department managers take the time to learn these things; it can open up opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, have department heads meet with each other to discuss projects or needs going on within each department. Allow the managers to inform the other dept. heads about their employees that might have a skill that can be useful for their needs.
  • Welcome in the devil’s advocate: as mentioned earlier, it’s important to have diverse thinking within a group to ensure that there isn’t any groupthink. Having an alternative perspective or opinion can help others in the group consider additional options or review the situation from all angles. However, make sure your devil’s advocate presents these thoughts in a constructive way rather than a way that will put everyone on the defense.
  • Review your policies: technology has been a great tool to have within the organization but many companies have policies in place that make employees fear using it. Are your policies discouraging employees to utilize it to their best potential? If so, take time to review and revise the policies. If that’s not a feasible option, then take time to clarify any part of the policy so employees feel more comfortable using the technology for communication and collaboration.

Polarization may have occurred when the economy took a turn for the worst. People felt the need to keep their cards close to heart and protect their jobs by having an “every man for themselves” mentality. They may have felt that showing their employer that their sole efforts were directly correlated to an end result can give them a sense of job security. Also, with limited job openings in organizations, workers may have felt the competitive pressure to stand out against other employees for a promotion. All of these situations are understandable but it’s not doing your business any good if you allow that to be the norm. As a leader, make it your effort to create a collaborative culture.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to check out #tchat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

Smart Leaders Collaborate

Collaboration Mojo Meets Basic Instinct: #Tchat Recap

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6 thoughts on “Are you a Leader of Collaboration?

  1. This is quite a summary and a helpful one as I always struggle to catch up with #TChat, from the UK.

    Agree in principle, but there are unfortunately workforce practices, in the recession, that are debilitating. We must encourage fluid, diverse and sharing knowledge practices between knowledge workers. We must enable a culture that is open, creative and nurturing. We must engage and encourage open dialogue and problem share. As we become leaner as organisations, it becomes even more important that we streamline business processes to ensure this, without disrupting quality.

  2. Hey! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does building a well-established blog like yours
    take a large amount of work? I’m brand new to writing a blog but I do
    write in my journal every day. I’d like to start a blog so
    I can share my own experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or
    tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

    1. Thank you for your question! It all depends on what goals you set for yourself. When I was unemployed I was able to write 5 blogs a week. When I got a job, I was able to do 3 blogs. Now that I’m busier, I stick to 1 blog a week and open myself up to guest blogs. It’s all about holding yourself accountable and keeping a strict schedule. Occasionally, I hit writers block but there’s so much out there that you can research to help inspire again. It doesn’t take much upkeep other than keeping a consistent editorial schedule. Just determine what’s feasible for you!

  3. Pingback: Flexibility in Leadership | The Social HR Connection

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