In the world of work, regardless of your type of organization, we rely on collaborative efforts to make things possible. I'm certain we'd all like to believe that people generally collaborate well in our schools or teams. We'd like to believe that when teachers or leadership teams gather together, they have deep, meaningful conversations that ultimately impact student learning. But, the opportunities for true collaboration (ya know, the kind that makes a bigger difference and greater impact) are often killed.
Several months back, I joined forces with Valerie Ayers and Aimee Gilbert to dig into 4 MAJOR Killers of Collaboration and 3 Ways to Combat Them. In this blogpost, I'm jumping back on this topic. Whereas the previous blogpost on this topic was focused more on internal struggles of collaboration, this blogpost is focused on external struggles of collaboration. Without further ado, here are three ways to kill collaboration FAST:
1. Avoiding "time wasters"
While we may not hear this idea explicitly verbalized, many people believe that time spent on self and social awareness is unnecessary or unproductive. But, the opposite is actually true. According to General Stanley McChrystal (2015) these "time sinks" are what imbues teams with high-level adaptability and efficacy, allowing them to collaborate extremely well.
2. Making assumptions
We make assumptions ALL. THE. TIME., whether we recognize we're doing it or not. The assumption made about collaboration is that it is happening where two or more are gathered, and/ or it's happening of its own accord. It just simply isn't. What we might notice instead is often "faux collaboration". Our assumptions prevent true collaboration from being possible.
3. Collaborating without goals or plans
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but approaching collaboration without a goal, plan, or agenda will definitely result in "faux collaboration" or no collaboration at all. Unfortunately, this one happens consistently. Why? Because being the person that brings meaning and purpose to a collaborative opportunity takes courage!
You can, however, avoid these pitfalls that kill collaboration fast! In fact, you can instead find ways to build effective collaboration that supports collective efficacy.
3 Ways to Build Effective Collaboration
1. Dedicate time
Dedicate time, preferably at the beginning of the year, for team members to engage in self and social awareness reflections. The better individuals on a team know themselves and know one another, the more understanding and gracious they will be when expected to work together. In fact, spending time on this will more than double the productivity and impact of teams, leaving individuals feeling valued, empowered, and inspired.
2. Explicitly teach and model
The tendency is often to assume that where two or more are gathered, collaboration is happening. But steer clear of falling into the trap of faux collaboration. Instead, take opportunities to explicitly teach and model effective collaboration skills such as listening to learn, asking clarifying questions, recognizing and provoking others' geniuses, ensuring all have a voice at the table, and handling conflict productively.
3. Plan intentionally
Collaboration, even between two people, can be messy. In fact, "messy" is often where the great work happens. But there is a difference between "messy" and "sloppy". Sloppy work is the result of a lack of goals and plans. It lacks meaning and vision. True collaboration relies on intentionally set goals and intentionally created plans to work toward a collective vision, keeping in mind that plans can be adjusted accordingly along the way (because success can be messy).
It's high time we focus on building effective collaboration habits instead of killing collaboration. But this takes a great deal of self/ social awareness and intentionality. Partner with me as a coach and consultant and we can combat these collaboration killers together!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- Collaborative Leader and Culture Changer!