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Why Collaboration Feels Like Hard Work…

I read this article in Harvard Business Review this week with interest. It’s not unusual for businesses to look to get more from their teams, but they all want to do that without putting them in a position of working harder or in ways that ‘don’t fit’ their style.

Collaboration has become a “salve for all ills” – a buzz word – for some, seeking to create a cultural shift towards more mutual working. The article highlights that collaboration isn’t a style; it does take an effort to achieve, and that must take time.

In the Journey to Collaboration, I discussed the steps that are needed to get to a collaborative group working effectively together. The HBR article makes clear that one aspect of what makes it hard work is having an understanding of what collaboration with is and is not. It also highlights that you have to be systematic in its application, using it in the right place, and being ready to act independently in the right circumstances. Collaboration is a team activity, but not all work; not all decisions are a collective endeavour. Knowing when to be collaborative, and knowing when to act independently is a skill that comes with clarity of goal, and certainty of direction. Working with the best collaborative teams I see respect for, and celebration of, individuality as well as mutuality.

What’s your view? Is collaboration over-hyped, or misunderstood?

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