Effective collaboration starts with leadership, says Jon Hubbard, director and consultant at Boomer Consulting, Inc.
“If you're a leader in an organization and you want more collaboration, the fastest and quickest way to make that happen is by actually doing these things yourself. Be the one to initiate the change.”
Hubbard presented “The Key to Team Productivity – Collaboration” on May 22 at the Dayton Accounting Show.
He defines collaboration as “the process your organization uses to create solutions that are uniquely your competitive advantage.” While this applies to winning sales and coming out on top, Hubbard says it also encompasses your ability to attract and retain great talent.
Companies build collaboration by using “four building blocks”: trust, communication, shared vision and accountability.
Trust happens when you invest in personal relationships, Hubbard said. As a leader, if you know what motivates your team members personally, then you can understand how they best contribute to the team and organization. If you trust and know your other team members, you will be more willing to share your thoughts and ideas.
One audience member asked how professionals can invest in a personal relationship without going over the line.
“There’s a big difference between asking ‘how was your weekend?’ and ‘what were you doing Saturday night between one and five?” Hubbard laughed. “If a team is afraid to ask about each other’s weekends, how collaborative can they be?”
Regarding communication, Hubbard discussed the importance of leveraging diverse styles within a team to drive collaboration. He is an advocate for a communication tool called the “Kolbe A Index,” a test that reveals a person’s natural instincts, how they solve problems, how they create solutions and their strengths.
“You're bringing to your role your instinctive strengths for how you solve problems and create solutions that are not tied to your education, not tied to the job that you had before, not tied to your personality, but tied to how you instinctively get things done. That's amazingly valuable. And in our profession, without the Kolbe, there's no way to understand that.”
As for having a shared vision, Hubbard said to start by sitting down with your team and asking these questions:
Once your team answers those questions, you can begin to create a shared vision and purpose to encourage collaboration toward your common goal.
The last building block is accountability. “It’s really difficult, if not impossible, for a team to be collaborative if they cannot be held accountable,” Hubbard said.
“You will not do anything but benefit from having quarterly reviews.” He said to ask your manager or team member what their goals are and what you can do to help them reach those goals. Collaboration is about working together and holding each other accountable for their tasks.
“Collaboration is not a feeling you have,” Hubbard said, “it’s behaviors you see.”