Collaboration is not easy when there’s no real communication going on in the workplace. Yes, you get along with your fellow workers. Yes, you all understand your responsibilities. Yes, you like your management.
So what’s missing from the team equation?
When there are mistakes or differences of opinion, are these are handled one-on-one, manager-to-employee instead of manager with team? One scenario is a dialogue. The other scenario represents communicating collaboration.
When the entire team doesn’t participate in reviewing and dissecting project throughput, the entire team doesn’t benefit from collaborative insights and learning. Neither does the client. It literally takes an entire team to create an engineered solution, a software solution, a sales solution. When you communicate via one-on-one dialogue, the details are lost in one-on-one translation.
Then the same mistakes and oversights keep repeating themselves because the entire team wasn’t part of a communicating collaboration process.
Communicating collaboration is about getting everyone around the table and reviewing what needs to be done. When the output you create is a team effort, input is a team affair as well. Otherwise everyone works in a one-on-one vacuum.
It is not personal. It is worse.
It is not malicious. It is not even intentional. Lack of communicating collaboration is unintentional. It is the way things have historically been done in your company.
Your manager thinks they are communicating collaboration with you. They are. It’s just their idea of collaboration is a one-on-one dialogue.
You depend on more than just your manager’s feedback. So do your team members. How can you stop the constant flurry of back and forth, one-on-one dialogues between individual employees and your manager?
No one knows a better way to collaborate until you collectively seek a better way to communicate.
Communicate what is not obvious.
Liberating your team from legacy communication habits starts by walking your collaboration talk differently. There’s no need for drama.
What is so obvious to you is not obvious at all to many folks on your team, including your manager.
Instead of another series of one-on-one dialogues, sit around the table to communicate and collaborate. Start by asking everyone on the team: “How would you approach this situation?” instead of “Here’s what’s wrong, can you make this correction for me?” The first question makes each team member an innovator. The latter, legacy question reinforces their role as order-taker.
Your Pivot: Target “Aha!” breakthrough behavior.
Communicating collaboration begins when everyone on the team realizes what they think is just as important as what they do. Aha! You are onto breakthrough team behavior.
Communicating collaboration continues when your manager realizes it is easier and more efficient to get everyone around the table at the same time to discuss issues which have become all too commonplace. Aha! You are on to breakthrough management behavior.
Communicating collaboration evolves when your entire team, including management, realizes how everyone impacts each other’s quality of work. Aha! You collectively create more mindful and thoughtful output on behalf of each other and your clients.
The results of communicating collaboration include greater operational efficiencies, decreases in non-billable hours per project, a far greater sense of individual and collective achievement by the team, increased employee satisfaction and retention, a greater sense of professional development and enhanced synergy among team members.
Communicating collaboration makes your workplace less of a process-ridden assembly line. Instead your work environment takes on think-tank intensity. You collectively are tasked with taking your client’s vision and making it an innovative reality. Together.
What type of workplace would you prefer? What type of team and management experience would you choose?
Babette N. Ten Haken is a strategist, analyst, author and blogger. Her focus: the interrelationship between teams, leadership and culture in technology and manufacturing. Her Workshops target team excellence in the execution of strategy. Babette began her career in clinical research where she was asked to bring clarity to stalemated cross-functional conversations. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. She writes for IBM, Penton, and other brands in the technology sector. Contact Babette here.
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