Creating a culture of collaboration ... from the inside

Collaboration is a recurring theme within this blog and is a bedrock of my work approach.
Take a journey with me: let's imagine that you work in an organization which does not have a culture of collaboration.  How do you shift the barometer from the inside, especially if you're not "the boss," and whether or not you hold any authority?

* We: Take a team approach to your language - more "we," less "I."   Worried you won't get credit for your own work?  You're not being asked to lie about your efforts or that of your team - simply, to acknowledge that many of our successes come from the contributions of several (or many).  My favorite athlete to watch in press conferences is Peyton Manning - known for his gracious messaging, acknowledging the efforts of his colleagues and downplaying his own.

If you do need to identify your personal contributions, you may appreciate recommendation #7 in this LinkedIn article.

* Create coalitions: Creating a culture of collaboration occurs throughout the workday.  Identify team members who collaborate together and who show appreciation of their colleagues. Share your vision of expanding individual collaborative approaches to the broader group.  Get a goat, be a goat.  Take a positive approach. Together, we are more.

* Show appreciation meaningfully: Acknowledge team members who are doing great work or making an impact - whether large or small.  I loved The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  Chapman and White posit that we aren't all the same: Some of us flower with public praise, whereas  others are mortified.  So, how important it is to show authentic appreciation to team members in a way that is meaningful and positive for them.  The Motivating by Appreciation assessment tool allows you to identify your own languages.

* Don't follow your temptation: Oh, it can be so easy and so quick to quietly fuel rumors about colleagues in whispered conversations in corridors and offices. Sometimes our motivation is innocent (trying to understand, checking for other perspectives); other times no.  Conversations to a colleague - instead of about a colleague - take bravery and require that we take an approach of "discovery." 

We should communicate directly, and our questions should be clear and respectful: "In our team meeting, you referenced a report of mine that you said was incomplete. Could you share details with me?  ... I would've loved to have had this conversation earlier, when you first had the concern, so that I could address it. Do you think you'd feel comfortable bringing something to me directly next time?  ... I'd really appreciate it, and I'll do the same with you."

And to segue,

* Be wary of minefields: Know that workplace bullying and relational aggression are real and common throughout the working world.  Prepare yourself.  Watch for relational aggression and bullying, and take a stand against it in the moment that it occurs.  For further reading (granted, my recent reading has been focused on female, gendered relational aggression, as you'll see from the list):
- Workplace Bullying Survey, 2014
- Mean Girls Grown Up
- To Women in Business: Lessons from Female Heavy Metal Singers
- Women Helping Other Women? Not So Much It Seems

Creating a culture of collaboration is the antithesis to a culture of workplace bullying and relational aggression. 


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