Collaboration is not only a good idea for organizations but often a necessary component for transformational change and high performing teams. The idea of collaborating sounds good but in the rhythm of the business, strict deadlines, different and sometimes competing agendas, reduced headcount and the directive of doing more with less, collaboration is not always an easy thing to create.
Collaboration on Three Levels for Sustainable Performance
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
When we work with organizations some of the critical components of a working agreement are often missing and a great area of opportunity to strengthen a team. It makes sense that an organization’s focus is on what we call the “It” dimension, the business success, bottom-line growth and profitability. What is sometimes missing is the strategy around the “I”, what is important to me as a leader and the “We” dimension which is all about mutual trust, respect and solidarity.
Without a clear process and agreement of how we will work together especially when inevitable conflict arises, unilateral escalation often occurs creating a bottleneck of mediation and negotiation by a manager without all of the parties present and a part of the conversation. Here we see the function in the dysfunction. As long as a manager is willing to do this mediating, there is no clear incentive for colleagues to align, agree and collaborate. The challenge for the manager is to see this for what it is and the message that it is sending culturally. If the manager is doing the heavy-lifting in working things out, often in one to one conversations, the message is “you don’t need to collaborate, simply bring your issue to me and I will listen and solve it for you.” This often comes from a very well-intended place. I have heard leaders say, “I want an open-door policy”; “I am proud that they feel they can come to me when they have an issue.” The intention is to support their direct reports. The issue is that this is not sustainable and doesn’t flex the collaboration muscle for the individuals of the team.
Impeccable Escalation: a Collaborative Conflict Resolution Process
“If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless.” Darryl F. Zanuck
So how do you create a process that incentivizes collaboration? We teach a process called Impeccable Escalation that clearly defines the process when conflict arises. It takes away the option to escalate unilaterally and points leaders to build the skill of working things out themselves from a place of alignment. It serves as a reminder that we are on the same team, working for a common goal and that part of our job is to work together in service of our organization.
Using Conscious Business mindsets and tools we support teams to commit to a process that rewards collaboration and shuts down the limited conversations behind closed doors without all parties involved present. Having a clear process for conflict supports collaboration and a high functioning team. A team I recently worked with agreed that protecting one another’s reputations was a valuable place for them to put their focus and commitment. Impeccable escalation is the process they are using to ensure that communication is transparent and that they have a structure for truly collaborating in service of a more inclusive and innovative culture.
This is Conscious Business at work.
About the author
Pamela is Axialent’s North America Managing Partner. With more than 15 years of experience in international relationship management, consulting and entrepreneurship, she is a leadership consultant and coach, course designer, and conference speaker. Read more>