What is collaboration?
The word “collaboration” essentially means “co-laboring” – or “working together.”
What are the signs of non-collaboration in the workplace?
While “working together” seems like a very simple concept, we are often called on to help leaders whose teams are not working together. This surfaces as in-fighting, cliquishness, lower levels of productivity, apathy, lack of communication, resentment, withholding of information and ideas, and the silo effect.
If you are seeing any of these in your organization, you have a collaboration issue. It is more common than you may realize.
What are the causes of non-collaboration?
Resolving any problem requires getting to the root cause. While companies spend millions of dollars on team-development retreats and exercises, many fail to address the real issues. Those who take the time to address the real problem(s) find real results.
In our work with leaders, we have identified several causes of non-collaboration. They include the following:
It has been said (and rightly so) that “everything rises and falls on leadership.” If your team is not working together, it is ultimately a leadership issue. That is the bad news. But it also the good news, because if you as a leader are part of the problem, you can also be part of the solution.
The key question to ask: Am I, as a leader, setting the example of working together with my team – or do I just come out of my office, pass out tasks, and revert to its elaborate confines?
Very often, division begins with one point of communication that is either not delivered, not delivered well, or is misinterpreted. It is no accident that one of our most effective Presidents was also known as “The Great Communicator.” We as leaders are quick to say what we think, but this is not communication. True communication is a cycle of listening, evaluating, and speaking. It is speaking with, not to our people.
The key question to ask: Am I communicating, or am I just speaking?
There is much discussion in the news about the idea of unity, with many factions attempting to sway or even force others to adopt their values and views. The fact is, unity in any context does not mean everyone will agree on issues, processes, or viewpoints. What it does mean is that each individual brings the best of themselves to the table to reach common goals and vision.
In the workplace, if everyone on your team thought exactly the same, you would be missing the value of perspective. If every person on your team is an extrovert, for example, details will be missed. Lawsuits, bankruptcies, and quality control issues have occurred with this level of exclusion. Conversely, if every person on your team is an introvert, you will have issues with growth and sales. We need the diversity of strengths working together to create successful companies.
The key question to ask: What does my team strengths map look like?
Clarity is key to any successful endeavor. You don’t get on a plane without first deciding where you want to go, yet many leaders ask their people to get on the plane to nowhere quite frequently. As leaders, we must be very clear on the vision of our organization and on the path to get there. We must set clear expectations as determined with our people as to what is reasonable to accomplish. Lack of clarity or unrealistic expectations result in team frustrations. As deadlines cannot be met, blame starts getting assigned, and the team begins to divide. This can be avoided simply by being clear and realistic on expectations. In this vein, the team can reach its goals and celebrate the victories together. It turns the competition factor into a collaboration factor.
The key question to ask: Are my expectations of my team clear and attainable?
Many of the non-collaboration signs result from improper role assignment. When a person is assigned to a role that doesn’t fit, they will begin to exhibit signs of frustration, apathy, anger, and lack of productivity, for example. This will affect the entire team. But if each individual is given the chance to work in their strengths at least 70% of the time, the whole team dynamic changes. Each person becomes the “go to expert” in their area of strengths, and as such, they feel valued as a team member. This has a compounding effect on the outcome as well, as the things you do well, you also do quickly and in a quality fashion.
The key question to ask: Is everyone on my team assigned to a role that allows them to work in their strengths at least 70% of the time?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.
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