However, before we go to work each day, we read or hear information that we are not very sure is factual. Some information is extremely disturbing.
As a result, we become increasingly skeptical and doubtful. After a while, we second-guess our own capacity to filter the truth from what is fabricated.
Then, we carry the noise inside our heads into the workplace. Consequently, skepticism clouds our ability to trust the very data and analytics insights we use as collaboration tools to drive business decision-making. Finally, we become unproductive as we grow less confident in our ability to collaborate with one another across departmental silos.
Sales Aerobics for Engineers® is founded on the mantra that depending on where we sit around the table, we see the same things differently. By perceiving these differences as innovative synergies instead of impediments, teams get to the finish line productively and profitably.
I offer these suggestions for fostering a positively-biased workplace collaboration environment.
First suggestions to address bad and ugly workplace collaboration bias: Everything does not need to become an issue.
Continuously reporting the dramatic seems to be the total focus of much of today’s social media and entertainment platforms. However, the workplace is not a reality show. In fact, the workplace represents professional and economic reality.
In addition, sometimes workplace teams include toxic individuals who exacerbate team discussions into dramas. They bring up ancient history of past disagreements or projects gone wrong. Past history tends to become embellished and distorted as it strays further and further from facts.
In general, naysayers want to stall or delay projects or prevent sales from moving forward. When they rev up their drama engines, the rest of the team shuts down. When facilitating teams, I ask these individuals to discern whether the subject of their angst is rooted in perceptual, historical drama or objective reality.
Keep in mind that this is not a Yes-No question and the answer “Both” is not valid. Most of the time, the entire team pauses, takes a breath and stops to think. This small space diffuses the momentum of negative energy so everyone can respond more thoughtfully. Bonus suggestion: This question works well when dealing with overly-dramatic family members. 😉
Second suggestion to create positive workplace collaboration bias: Be observant instead of judgmental.
Once real issues are identified, provide opportunities for employees to discuss in a facilitated manner across multiple forums. Importantly, teach them how to be nonjudgmental when asking for clarification. An effective query pattern I often use begins with: “This is an observation, not a judgment. Would you mind clarifying….”
A provocative @TalentCulture #WorkTrends Twitter chat, podcast and blog post features host @MeghanMBiro and clinical psychologist Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli . Dr. Ciaramicoli specializes in improving workplace relationships by overcoming stress and bias with cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizing the value of empathy.
As you listen to this podcast, learn how leadership sounds in the workplace – no matter what your job title or function. Both Biro and her guest exemplify, in mindset and dialogue, how the use of nonjudgmental conversation diffuses anxiety, even about some of the most sensitive issues stressing us out today.
Third suggestion to leverage workplace collaboration bias for innovation: Correlate the context of issues with positive professional opportunities.
In my client work, when negative workplace collaboration bias comes to a bad or ugly head, everyone always seems to be surprised. Yet, as we examine context, factors influencing workplace incompatibilities emerge. Unsurprisingly, these areas of contention always have been present and fostered, sometimes unintentionally.
For example, organizations undergoing digital transformation of the workplace experience quite a bit of good collaboration along with bad, awkward and ugly attempts. Often, highly educated knowledge worker teams are responsible for collaborating with manual work-based teams, sometimes for the first time. Initially, the situation is extremely uncomfortable for both types of co-workers.
However, successful teams identify the culprit of their mutual discomfort as learning to collaborate with a third type of co-worker: a cognitive AI software platform. When teams identify and eliminate two-pronged Us versus Them legacy perspective, they collaborate more productively and profitably. These dynamics are key to successful digital transformation projects.
Pretending today’s workplace collaboration bias doesn’t exist is no longer a viable workplace option.
Getting from where you are today to where you need to be tomorrow is not a matter of plug-and-play training or blunt directives that address symptoms rather than cultural underpinnings. Instead, consider creating safe environments, sandboxes, for teams to work together innovatively, in spite of entrenched perceptual differences.
Liberate yourself tomorrow from today’s unproductive, negative workplace collaboration bias. Ultimately, all employees can benefit from developing this skill set and habits.
Take the next steps. Where will you start, tomorrow?
Babette Ten Haken is a STEM-trained catalyst, corporate strategist, storyteller and facilitator. Her focus? How collaboration revolutionizes and humanizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain. The results? Increased customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention.
Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Do you know the Top 5 Negative Customer Retention Scenarios? Find out here.
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