If you are a millennial or manage millenials you probably perceive collaboration as a key to success.
Managers who believe in top-down leadership are likely to see the negative impact their style has on younger employees. These younger team members have a desire to learn and to know ‘why’ a task should be completed in a certain way. What can ensue is a lack of motivation when their answer is not met with a sufficient explanation.
Collaboration encourages team problem solving, creativity and the support of individuals when they have ‘bought-in’ and been part of the solution. I specifically refer to millenials as they have contributed to this big shift in the way we work and think. However, I am going to be controversial and say,
Is collaboration always positive?
I think we need to take stock of our actions and ask ourselves:
Are we always the most effective leaders if we default to a collaboration mentality?
What happens when we need to make quick decisions for the good of the team and are paralyzed by our fear of not including others?
The Collaboration Pitfall
I first questioned this seemingly ‘best practice’ mentality when I read Jake Breeden’s book ‘Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits That Masquerade as Virtues’.
Jake states that ‘working with others is sometimes a blast, sometimes a must and sometimes a waste’. We can ‘auto-collaborate’; gaining comfort from working in a team and avoiding conflict by reverting to consensus.
If you need to make a quick decision in a manager’s meeting, would you reconvene in order to discuss the matter with the team first? You potentially risk losing your credibility and a decision being made on your behalf in order to move the agenda along.
Being a representative is all about understanding the vision of your team and being able to speak on behalf of the individuals within it – not being able to do so can stifle progress and does not reflect well on your leadership.
I believe this links to time management and could potentially be a cause of overwork and increased stress. I would love to know your thoughts on the matter – so please do share your comments at the bottom of this post.
Get Smarter About Your Time
We are over-committing to the team, always looking to gain consensus and as a result having longer meetings when we could have made an informed decision ourselves.
Using this example of meeting length, ask yourself the following questions before your next team huddle:
- Why are we holding a meeting? Will actions be noted and decisions made.
- Who will be held accountable for the actions? There needs to be follow-up; will individuals be held accountable and how will you do this.
- Is this the most effective use of everyone’s time? Is everyone going to be actively participating in the meeting; it’s good practice to consider if everyone needs to be there. Does the meeting need to be as long – could all agenda points be covered in 10 minutes (I have never had anyone book a 10 minute meeting, but there have been meetings where I am sure all agenda points could have been covered in that time)?
If you can’t think of adequate answers to these questions you should cancel the meeting. Collaboration has potentially driven you into ineffectiveness.
Changing Our Collaboration Mindset
This does not mean that collaboration isn’t crucial for the success of individuals, teams and the organisation. It does mean we need to think smarter about when to collaborate.
We need to strike a better balance. Let’s collaborate smarter to gain back our time, make meetings more productive and refocus on getting results.
About the author: Lisa Ellis is the EMEA Client Services Manager at the Ken Blanchard Companies, she manages a team of Project Managers, Learning Services (online learning) and Staffing (resource scheduling).