"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."
- Henry Ford
Organizations are becoming more and more complex. Cross-functional interaction and interdependence has increased the need for leaders who know how to work with and through others. Recent research from the Conference Executive Board's sister organization, CLC, underscored this in their 2012 Data Survey of 23,000 employees. Here are just a few highlights:
- 80% of employees said their workloads increased
- 50% of employees had the number of people involved in making a decision increase
- 60% of employees had more than 10 people involved in their day-to-day work
- 63% of employees had to regularly collaborate with people in different locations
- Split allegiance: loyalty to functional team and operational team feels in conflict
- Functional focus: enmeshed in their own functional responsibility they lack an understanding of how others are impacted by their work
- Compensation: leaders are not rewarded to work with others
- Corporate Culture: not part of the required DNA, noone else role models the behavior
- Power Struggle: ego clashes, desire to be top dog, need to be right
- Leadership Styles clash: different styles - aggressive vs. thoughtful, data vs. people oriented, individual vs. team player - creating tension and lack of alignment
- Different vision among cross-functional partners: some want innovative new ways of executing, some want to hold onto to past success
3 steps to adding effective collaboration skills
- Take stock of your current reputation by asking others: "How are you perceived in the organization? What are you known for? How do people misunderstand you and what you stand for?" Once you have gathered this information, commit to the 1-2 things you want to change about your reputation. Leverage the strengths you have which will allow for more collaboration and driving for results can be a strength for everyone if you turn the objective from your individual success to the team success.
- Identify the relationships that you need to improve which will have the biggest impact on your ability to get your job done. If you know there is a relationship that needs repairing, sit down with the leader and genuinely own your role in the conflict. Talk about what you will do in the future to keep the relationship a positive one. Recognize that trust is built slowly by keeping commitments and talking through disagreements sensibly.
- Find a role model in the company who collaborates well and ask him or her to mentor you around how he/she does it. Discover why this person finds it so valuable to collaborate.