Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Managing Across - 10 Points For Collaborative Success

Many people use a competitive mindset at work, focusing their interactions on WIIFM - "What's In It For Me". This approach can bring short-term success for the side with the sharpest mind and toughest resolve.

But when we approach work as a battle that has winners and losers, rather then as an opportunity to collaborate with others to build a bigger better joint solutions, the company suffers. This is a classic case of winning the battle but loosing the war.

The solution? Get rid of the competitive mindset and adopt a collaborative approach.

Here are ten steps that you can take to build effective collaborative relationships:

1. Plan Your Approach.

Before you meet with a potential collaborator gather as much information as possible to identify potential common goals and think through the benefits that achieving these goals could bring each side.

2. Don't assume that everyone sees things the same way you do.

People have different needs, styles, desires and goals. Before you can effectively collaborate with someone you need to understand them. People make decisions for their reasons not yours - so make sure you recognize what they value and know how they operate.

3. Think big and focus on enlarging the pie rather then dividing it up.

You will be able to achieve more by working together. Take on big and exciting goals that will inspire others to also join you and make a difference.

4. Be observant and listen.

One way to understand someone's goals and personal preferences is of course to ask directly; this only works if you listen very carefully to the answer. Listen for unspoken needs. Notice the topics that they get passionate about. Listen for the whole message. The better your understanding, the more flexibility and creativity you'll have as you work together.

5. Openly exchange information.

To understand the total opportunity, everyone needs to exchange information. People will not share much with someone who is holding back. Lead the way by sharing your perspective and asking others to do the same.

6. Build trusting relationships.

Collaboration is not an event. Collaboration is an ongoing investment in people. When you do decide to collaborate with someone on a common goal or task, make sure that you also invest time in building the relationship.

7. Clarify roles and responsibilities.

Once you have defined what you are going to do, you need to agree to a consistent understanding of how is it going to be done and who is going to do it. Be specific and clarify agreements at the end of your meetings.

8. Keep your commitments.

f you say you are going to do something - do it. Don't make commitments lightly. Failing to meet a commitment is inconsiderate of others and can kill trust.

9. Appreciate others.

Notice and acknowledge the contributions of others as you work together. Credit and recognition becomes a sticky issue when you work across organizational lines. Be aware that people are sensitive in this area and sincere recognition of the contributions of individuals and teams is always welcomed.

10. Watch out for individuals that just want to win.

Collaboration while powerful is not always the answer. Some peers may not want to or need to collaborate with you. In these situations you need to use a more measured approach.

By Doris Kovic

No comments: