Is Collaboration Really Worth the Time and Effort?

Recently, an executive in a global business said over dinner, “I hate collaboration”! If you have said that and have felt held back by the need to work with another when it seems that things would move more quickly if alone, then this is for you.

I recall a client a few years ago, making a plan to have regular meetings with his executive peers in other business areas of his corporation. His desire came from our coaching where he realized that he knew very little about his colleagues who had similar duties in other parts of the business. The different facets of the business did not share information on a regular basis, so when it came time to work together to push a product to market they often started with lack of information or clarity about the road ahead, and had to lay new groundwork for successful collaboration to the finish line.

There was not a sense of a team that had the overall success of the business in mind and what part they needed to play to get to the finish line. Problems because of lack of communication often came up at the last minute when expectations of the other groups were not met and irritation and delays ensued.

Here are some clear actions that you can take as a leader to create greater engagement from your team and effective collaboration between peers for more communication and clarity.

1. Alter your Mindset:

Old Thought—meetings are a waste of time

New Thought– the right kind of meeting will achieve better results:

• Create regular meetings with peers in other functional areas—maybe one a month

• Have an agenda, as well as some time to learn about the other person

• Look at areas of business that you have in common and how to more effectively combine efforts in specific areas

2. Use engagement techniques as a leader to create a more unified and vital intact team. Example: Schedule a meeting and announce that it is substantive in terms of working together more effectively. When the meeting begins have each person give a three to four minute personal introduction as if for the first time including:

a. Their name

b. Their role

c. How they see the effect of their role on the entire business unit and

d. How they see themselves working with other members of the team to create better results.

It is amazing how much information this gives to people who think they know each other well. It also provides some new avenues of interaction and new opportunities for clarity.

3. Encourage two-way communications during the delegation process. Allow time for clarifying questions.

4. Encourage creative thinking without analyzing right away, and then allow time for disagreement within the meeting rather than waiting for people to disagree out of hearing range. We will discuss this in detail in the next blog post.

Use these above actions today within your own organization to begin a process which will allow more creative thinking and innovation to take place. So often these two areas are attempted without first laying the communication groundwork necessary for successful execution. We will continue to talk about creative thinking and innovation in the next few weeks as the time for strategic planning and implementation draws near.

What are some of your obstacles to team engagement and collaboration with peers?  Is time one of them?   This is part of some research that I am undertaking so any comments would be appreciated. Thanks – Patricia Heyman