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.
One Millimeter Mindset® speaking and consulting programs are founded on the mantra that depending on where we sit around the table, we see the same things differently. We hear the same stories 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, to address bad and ugly workplace collaboration bias, realize everything does not need to become an issue. Be observant instead of judgmental.
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. 😉
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….”
Second, leverage acknowledgment of workplace collaboration bias. 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?
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
Babette Ten Haken | Change Catalyst | Purpose-Driven Professional Innovation | Cross-Functional Team Leadership | Trust-Based Client Retention | In Person & Virtual Speaker, Consultant, Coach, Author |
Babette Ten Haken is a refreshingly extroverted STEM professional and skeptical thinker focused on intentional innovation. She helps people, teams and organizations make hard calls when designing products, services, careers and cultures. These are not easy conversations to have. Her ability to translate cross-functional conversations between left-brain and right-brain thinkers provides different pathways for behavior, response, insight and collaboration. Think of the strategic business and human capital value of moving beyond avoidance or group-think, together. Instead, let your creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills co-develop together, one millimeter at a time. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here. Image source: Adobe Stock.