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​Practicing collaboration in the workplace

​Practicing collaboration in the workplace


Collaboration was a hot topic back in February of this year, as the SD Worx European Conference focused on the subject and invited some of the best thought leaders onto the stage to discuss. My biggest takeaway was that collaboration needs to run throughout an entire organisation. It needs to be instilled as a tool. It can’t be just a buzz word, it must have meaning and must have a purpose.

Can we over collaborate?

One question posed by the panel was ‘can we collaborate too much?’. The answer is yes and it’s very important to ensure that organisations remember this. Sometimes, it’s seen as the ultimate answer to a problem or challenge. Whilst being an advocate of collaboration as a tool, it can feel redundant when it’s done as a standard thing rather than for a key purpose. Individual creativity is something that an organisation should place value on and taking that away for the sake of another team’s think-tank can sometimes lead to less effective results.

When to collaborate?

The other element which is frequently overlooked is for what purpose do we use collaboration for. Most may see collaboration as a clubbing together of ideas, working towards a goal as a team. Whilst this is true, I feel collaboration is undervalued as a tool for those times we’re not at our best and perhaps, feeling overwhelmed or downbeat. Having a self-critical personality, I’m all too often analysing what I’ve done, being disappointed with it and trying to fix it myself. So, it’s taken a change in habits to ensure I’m collaborating to fix these challenges and not just ensuring it’s down to me.

We all have the Monday blues and a recent Monday of mine was fraught with frustration, lack of success and a feeling of achieving nothing. The culture of SD Worx allowed me to approach one of my team mates and ‘call it’; today was not a good a day and I want to talk about it. Because of that, I had a vessel to share my feelings and to get another perspective on the day’s events. We decided the most appropriate action would be collaboration; to plan both our weeks, addressing our goals over the course of five days to ensure we’re getting the best of our time. It worked and for me it was collaborating at its best.

Critique your collaboration

As an employee, I believe it’s important we’re self-critical. The example above stemmed from the practice of employing a feedback loop every single day; what did I do well today, what did I not do well today and ultimately, do I feel satisfied in my work? It’s analysed, processed and then goes into determining the next day.

To ensure we’re avoiding over-collaboration, I think it’s important to apply this to any work undertaken as a team. Did it go well? Was it a worthwhile event or was it a lot of empty words? Would that have worked better had it been led by an individual? With this practice, it’s much easier to then predict which projects or challenges need to be collaborative and which we need to tackle differently.

No silver bullet

There is no silver bullet to success in my role and collaboration is not a silver bullet to ensuring a successful organisation. Yet when it’s used at the right time, in the correct context and perhaps for the reasons you don’t expect, it’s one of the richest tools we have at our disposal.

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About the author

Adam Burgess
Business Development Manager

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