‘Collaboration’, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, means ‘working together to produce something’. This definition implies a group of people sharing responsibility for the same outcome.
Currently collaboration tries to take place in hierarchical structures, pre-determined (cubicle) spaces, and keeping up production flow. Work is completed in functional roles and predetermined responsibilities and tasks. Managers require a lot of energy coordinating activities through endless meetings and human resource management.
In addition, a competition focus and economic growth model has developed an individualistic business culture. It is focused on self-interest rooted in materialism, wealth creation and at the extreme greed. Vested interests within and outside of organisations inhibit collaboration and therefore tapping into new opportunities. And low employee engagement scores show workers dissatisfaction making collaboration at best a challenge.
- Do you spend a lot of time coordinating activities instead of being productive for the business?
- Does your business need to regain the skill of collaboration?
- Does current employee engagement allow for good collaboration? If not read on…
Good collaboration was a natural (survival) state for tribal societies with each member having a role contributing towards the common good. This kind of collaboration entails
- understanding what the final ‘something’ is i.e. have a goal or vision;
- the coordination of activities,
- trust that others understand, will accept and live up to their responsibility;
- transparency so each participant knows what their contribution is and how well they do; and
- feeling valued for this contribution.
To increase staff engagement and commitment leaders can foster collaboration within their current business structure by
- Creating a flatter hierarchy;
- Implementing leadership roles outside of line management;
- Setting up special project teams who work across functional, team or divisional boundaries;
- Creating a consensus driven decision making framework using the six hat thinking approach;
- Having common performance measures; and
- Rewarding and recognising teams instead of individuals.