Basic Problem Solving: Collaboration
Posted by Anni M.
Yesterday I wrote about the importance of identifying and responding to a problem. Today, I’d like to discuss the benefits of collaboration for solving problems as a team. From the outside, a well-oiled team makes office management look easy. Problems are addressed quickly and with few ripples. Employees know where to go with questions or concerns and they’re satisfied with resolutions. But building this kind of team takes an enormous effort. It requires personnel who communicate skillfully and bosses who respect the decisions the team makes. It also requires a masterful arbitrator—someone who can oversee the team’s progress, suggest improvements, manage hiring, and step in when the team’s efforts break down.
I realize this description makes team-building sound impossible. It isn’t, just start small. Collaboration isn’t encouraged in many office settings. Especially those in which competition is a driving force behind the business’ success. When employees are competitors, they aren’t motivated to work together. This is a dangerous every-man-for-himself style environment. It’s difficult to grow a company when employees are out for blood. Even in competitive office settings, collaborative teams (unrelated to competitive projects) can help improve morale while boosting the cohesiveness of the team.
For example: a legal office is full of competitive litigators, all racing for a coveted few partner seats with the firm. This is a notorious office dynamic in the legal profession, and it isn’t particularly conducive to long-term success. Lawyers constantly undermine their colleagues, finding sneaky ways to make them look bad without getting caught. This hurts the business. In this situation, collaborative teams can help re-focus energy while they redefine the firm’s office climate. Creating teams to tackle inter-office problems forces competitors to see each other as teammates, since they are all affected by office policy. This is an extreme example (lawyers are probably the least amenable professionals when it comes to playing nice) but the concept is sound: establish teams to address problems that effect everyone and the focus will be on the problem, not on inter-office politics.
Collaboration is a powerful tool. Combining the creative powers of a group of creative professionals can foster an explosively productive problem solving team. For example, the Pacific Standard reported that when middle school teachers collaborated, students did better. The more time people spend working together, the better they will become at pooling their wisdom. Given enough time, encouragement, and direction, a team can drive a business.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..