A few years ago we surveyed over 1,400 executives and employees, and 86% cited lack of collaboration for workplace failures. Does this surprise you?
Many of us can cite epic failures and point fingers at people who did not ask us what our perspectives were around an opportunity, challenge, or decision. Then heads were shaking when the “inevitable” outcome became reality. Conversely, many of us have been on the other side of the equation, kicking ourselves for not asking the people that were central to the success of the project or challenge for their opinions, guidance, and help. It could have been an intentional choice or complete oversight.
Collaboration is much easier said than done. Many people understand the importance of getting diverse perspectives and including the team, yet it can be difficult to ensure that it actually happens.
At fierce, we encourage you to take it one conversation at a time. And for collaboration, focus on team meetings. As a leader (either by title or choice), it is your duty to understand all of the perspectives that need to be heard before making decisions. Team meetings are a powerful way to work together where everyone can roll up their sleeves and really collaborate.
Team meetings can be authentic and energizing… or fake and life-sucking.
Here are three collaboration traps to avoid and indicators that can occur and ways to detect if it is happening to you:
Non-inclusion happens when you don’t even bother to ask people for their opinions. There are many legitimate reasons for why this occurs. Some may include: many things on people’s plates, decisions need to be made fast, people not understanding the issue, etc. The problem with not including is that it makes everyone involved feel like they are undervalued. 40% of our survey respondents felt that leaders and decision makers consistently failed to seek out other opinions before making a final decision.
Non-inclusion indicators: Are your employees just doing what is asked of them, nothing more? Are they resentful with decisions that you make? Are your employees just giving you the “corporate nod”.
2. Illusion of Inclusion
This is when a leader loves the idea of including others in the decision making process, yet doesn’t really want to. People can spot this from a mile away. They know when you are doing “what you should be doing” as opposed to being genuinely interested in new ideas and processes. It reminds me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” In other words, you may say you want to know my perspective, yet you act very differently.
Illusion of Inclusion indicators: Do you go into a meeting just to sell your brilliant idea? Are your employees withholding juicy, robust pushback and instead just agreeing? Do you glaze over when people bring up different viewpoints?
3. Loudest Get Heard
This happens in meetings when a leader asks a question and the external processors raise their hands, start sharing, and slowly become the only ones to give input. That’s a problem when you want diverse perspectives. It is your job as the leader to create space for the internal processors to share their ideas and have the time they need to think about it. In Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, she shares research and insights on what we lose when we do not give the space and value for internal processors and introverts.
Loudest Get Heard indicators: Are the same few people always the ones contributing at your meetings? Are your internal processors accustomed to talking with you more one-on-one instead of having the floor at meetings? Do you keep the meeting moving fast even if people may not have had time to truly think about the topic?
Given the three collaboration traps, which one are you most guilty of? What do you need to watch for?