November 2017 Business SCAN
Technology has revolutionised our workplace, offering increasing options and freedom for people as to how, where and when they work. Providing your employees with more control over the ways that they do their work can have beneficial effects. The dilemma is, however, the more choices that we give employees, the higher the risk of fragmentation. Individual levels of productivity may go up but cohesion and trust between employees and teams goes down.
Get your team members on the same page
You may think everyone knows who is in your team, and who isn’t, but think again.
Even in cases where there is a clearly articulated organisational chart showing the team’s make-up, or a project launch with clear communication about who’s working with whom, the solid fundament of traditional team structures and boundaries may falter. Teams are crossing distance, time zones, languages and cultures. They include members shared across multiple teams or projects and they change all the time, for example, with members frequently added and dropped based on particular expertise – all factors that are difficult to avoid in organisations nowadays.
In the end, the model that governs a team member’s day-to-day interactions is the model of the team that individuals hold between their ears. We simply base our actions on our mental representations.
Five steps to increase collaboration:
On the other end of the spectrum, many of today’s most important challenges are so complex and multifaceted that they can only be tackled by bringing together expertise from different areas. We must be able to harness ideas, people and resources from across teams and organisational boundaries. So, how do we bring people together to collaborate?
One of the key pieces of advice from Dr. Nicola J. Millard, this month’s Hot Topic expert, is to recruit, encourage and create cultures of collaboration.
- Hire natural collaborators.
- Actively encourage people to interact with people beyond the boundaries of their teams.
- Leaders must lead by example. A culture of cooperation cannot spread through an organisation unless it is preached and practiced at all levels.
- Understand collaborative mindsets – most people are ‘givers’, ‘takers’ or ‘matchers’. ‘Takers’ like to get more than they give; ‘givers’ tend to give more than they get; while ‘matchers’ strive to preserve an equal balance of giving and taking. An organisation with a ‘taking’ mindset is unlikely to be one that collaborates well. ‘Giving’ is the most successful strategy for people hoping to build long and productive working relationships.
- Create a ‘belonging’, inclusive culture, involving a strong sense of common purpose.
Sources: Complex Collaboration Report (2013) Future of Work Consortium, London Business School Hotspots Movement; de Anca, C. and Aragon, A. (2016) To foster innovation, connect co-workers who share aspiration, Harvard Business Review, 14 Jul; Gardner, H.K. and Ibarra, H. (2017) How to capture value from collaboration, especially if you’re sceptical about it, Harvard Business Review, 02 May. Gratton, L. & Erickson, T.J. (2007) 8 Ways to Build Collaborative Teams, Harvard Business Review, November, 101-109; Millard, N. J. (2016) The Collaboration Conundrum - A WorkShift White Paper, BT.
It’s important to understand that your world isn’t the way you thought it was and not everyone sees the team the way that you see it. Consider how do you think the people you collaborate with perceive you and the teams?
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This KnowledgeBrief Hot Topic is part of our monthly Business SCAN publication
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