Why Collaborate at all?
Experience shows that collaboration not only works for solving problems, implementing changes and confronting complex issues, collaboration produces better results. Better than the individual acting without consultation? YES! While geniuses exist who change the world with ideas and inventions, most of us are confronted with impact problems. Often our solutions affect others’ thinking, reactions and feelings.
Consider these typical business problems:
Making a system change to serving your customers: Creates a ripple effect for managers, employees and customers.
Collaboration ensures that technical problems, service impact (step by step), new rules and policies are reviewed thoroughly, action plans minimize disruption to all. Every party has a say in the change.
Terminating an employee who manages a service team: Creates a ripple effect for peers, employees and customers.
Collaboration ensures that performance and legal issues are reviewed, communication is planned, privacy rules are followed and implementation is mapped out. The manager makes no missteps.
Collaboration takes time – initially! However, when you hone your collaboration skills, time issues fade. For example, I recall the anguish of a very large system conversion at the bank. The conversion team met sporadically, neglected to get enough information from suppliers, omitted key input from affected departments. The result – unmitigated disaster.
To ensure that this did not happen again, the team met over a period of weeks to identify mistakes, gaps, outcomes. Eighteen months later, this same team was confronted with a larger conversion. The result this time – absolute success.
When I asked the team members what was different. Their report: No blame was assigned to individuals for the last failure- the team took responsibility. They acknowledged their weaknesses. They realized they needed to work together differently. They needed better skills.
What skills? Collaboration skills:
Ability to listen effectively and completely, even when: you have a better idea, or you think the suggestion is a lousy idea, or you dislike the person, or you have another meeting…
Ability to make connections between ideas, even when the ideas: seem unrelated, or cause disagreement, or lead to more complex issues, or seem silly and make everyone laugh…
Ability to draw out constructive thoughts and opinions from others who: rarely offer comments, or veer too often from topic, or lack confidence, or have trouble articulating, or don’t want to participate, or disagree for the sake of disagreement.
Ability to summarize key points that: build a complete picture of issues, or acknowledge all participants’ ideas, or point to gaps in group thinking, or lead to basis for consensus.
Ability to change when you recognize ideas and solutions that: differ from your own, or add new perspectives, or alter your long held opinions, or made no sense in the beginning.
So? Do you have what it takes to collaborate?