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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Effective Collaboration, an efficiency multiplier for free

Effective Collaboration
The word collaboration has become widely used but is it just empty rhetoric? Collaboration is defined as "the act of working together to produce or create something." In this complex business environment people are being asked to share knowledge freely, to learn from one another, to shift workloads flexibly, to help one another complete jobs and meet deadlines, and to share resources-in other words, to collaborate. This activity is about behavior, work habits, culture, management, and business goals and value.With that said I ask, "How likely are your employees to say they "sink or swim" together, want one another to succeed, or view their goals as compatible?" Bringing people together is no longer a choice ... it is the only way to assemble the knowledge and experience required to accomplish the complex tasks your organization faces.Here are Six Ways to Build Collaboration
1. Model collaborative behavior - Your actions send a clear message - do yours "say" collaboration is important? When the senior team works well together and internal communication is frequent and open the collaborative nature trickles down throughout the organization.
2. Create a culture of generosity - Regular mentoring and coaching helps establish a culture of generosity and cooperation in place of a more transactional "I'll do this for you if you do that for me" culture. When individuals give freely of their time to support the success of another employee everyone wins.
3. Ensure the right skill set - Employees are encouraged to cooperate and they want to cooperate, but do they know how? Crucial skills include holding difficult conversations, appreciating others, questioning to clarify ideas, attentive listening, disagreeing in a constructive way and productively resolving conflicts. Explicitly develop these skills - don't let it be left to chance.
4. The right team leaders - Teams need strong leadership and strong leaders are often task- or relationship-oriented. When a complex problem is at hand assigning leaders who are both task- and relationship-oriented will support the high level of collaborative behavior required for success. Which of your leaders possess strong project management skills and the ability to foster the environment of trust and cooperation which supports knowledge sharing?
5. Role clarity - improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood. Without such clarity, team members are likely to waste too much energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focusing on the task.
6. Rewards - How does your company reward its employees? In a culture of collaboration rewards are based on team performance - it can't be a zero sum game or heavily weighted to individual results.

Does your organization's culture truly support collaboration? Strengthening your organization's capacity for collaboration requires a combination of long-term investments in building relationships and trust and developing a culture in which senior leaders are role models, AND smart short-term decisions about the ways teams are formed, roles are defined, and challenges and tasks are articulated.

By brooke.ingram
www.ahimsaconsultancy.com.

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