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Five Practices to Get People to Work Together – Entering the Collaboration Zone

Five Practices to Get People to Work Together – Entering the Collaboration Zone

It is tough times for businesses today. Never has it been as important as now to do more with less, share resources and leverage each other’s strengths and get people to work TOGETHER as a single unit to beat the odds. Collaboration is the key to accelerating performance improvements and transformation. Different cultures, working styles and views make any project or initiative that needs collaboration a nightmare.

It does not have to be that way, though.  With a little bit of respect, give-and-take and clear communication, collaboration can become a reality.  Here are five behaviors to get people to work together that if put into practice will align individual performers into a high performance cohesive team ready to take on any challenge:

Get People to Work Together #1: Have One Shared Purpose

Everyone on the team needs to have a shared purpose or goal leaving individual ambitions or personal agendas aside. Before starting on a project or mission, decide what the primary motive for collaboration is and what needs to be achieved when. Pull your weight, give it your best effort and be mindful about deadlines and commitments.

Get People to Work Together #2: Treat Each Other With Respect –

Treat each other with respect. Allow different views to come on the table giving each view equal consideration before collectively agreeing on the best course of action. Listen, participate and contribute. Give value to get value.

Get People to Work Together #3: Share Credit –

Don’t be an appreciation hog and shy away from giving appreciation where it is due. Be quick to praise and slow to blame. Aim for visibility of the group efforts and not just of your own. As Harry Truman said – It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.

Get People to Work Together #4: Let go of the “I” –

You may be an expert and know just the right way to get things done but that’s not what is wanted here. Let go of your ego and consider what the right way is to proceed as a team. Focus your energies and abilities in competing “outside” rather than “inside”. In-fighting is a sure recipe for failure.

Get People to Work Together #5: Leverage Strengths and Manage Weaknesses –

Leverage strengths and make up for each other’s weaknesses to take your group to levels of success that would not have been possible individually. Spend some time knowing each other’s strengths and weakness – ask questions, share ideas, learn new information, and bounce suggestions off one another. Then, divide responsibilities and set accountabilities so that the right people are on the right jobs and the goal becomes manageable.

What other behaviors have worked to get people to work together and improve collaboration in your organization? What irritates you when you are part of a team? I would love to get your insights.

Pic Courtesy : Tim Fishburne, the Marketoonist.

Five MUST- NOTs when Managing your People

Five MUST- NOTs when Managing your People


Why is it so difficult to be happy at work? Gallup surveys show that more than two-thirds of the workforce globally are emotionally disconnected from their work and are less likely to be productive. I have managed teams and been managed by bosses for the last 15 years now and have arrived on one recurring theme that is absolutely essential for employee engagement and work place happiness and productivity – RESPECT.

We spend half our waking hours on working. Excellence at work is only possible if we provide a safe haven for our people. Happy employees are significantly more productive, drive higher customer satisfaction and outperform those who are less engaged. If you manage and lead teams, there are certain No-Nos that you must keep in mind to ensure that you both give respect to and get respect from your people:

Must-Not #1: Manipulation – Don’t play games with your people. That’s the easiest way to lose trust. You have better chances of getting something done if you are transparent and up front about your motives. And if you prefer to keep your agenda hidden, you probably are pretty sure yourself that it is not the right thing to do.

Must-Not #2: Shouting – No matter how much stress you are under or the pressures on you from your management, there is no excuse for losing your temper with your people. Bad behavior and bullying are extremely harmful for the morale and definitely not the example you want to set.

Must-Not #3: No Appreciation – Remember to thank your team and thank them often. People will only give their best if they feel valued. There does not have to be an occasion or a big accomplishment. Little things done well are as important as big jobs. Observe your team closely and look for reasons to be grateful, you won’t have to search too much.

Must-Not #4: No Consideration – People have a life of their own apart from work. Respect the boundaries. Don’t demand their time and attention on weekends, vacations and late nights. You may be a workaholic but that does not mean your team has the same priorities in life. If you have been transparent with your team, they will most likely volunteer in times of need.

Must-Not #5: No Communication – Don’t just communicate with your people when you have to assign work or review status. Discuss plans, goals, problems and career development. Converse, engage and just be in touch with your teams. Communication is a two-way street. Listen actively.

The basic building block of good team building is for a leader to promote the feeling that every human being is unique and adds value. 
– Anonymous

What other behaviors do you think are best avoided at the work place? What irritates you and what has worked for you? I would love to hear back from you on your experiences.


Five Leadership Lessons from my Teams

Five Leadership Lessons from my Teams

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
– John F. Kennedy

When I look back on my career so far, leading and mentoring teams for the best results has been the most fulfilling among all my experiences. While a lot has been written on what examples leaders can set for their teams, not much focus is there on what leaders can learn from their teams. Leaders and their teams are part of one ecosystem – to succeed and grow, BOTH leaders and their teams need to keep the channels of learning open.  This week, I took the opportunity to list down a few of the valuable lessons that I have learnt over the years from my team:

Lesson #1: It is OK to pass on your leadership hat to the team sometimes – There are times when you have to lead from the front, but there are also times when you need to sit back and let your team lead. Not only do you get a break from the “always on” mode, you also get to see a fresh perspective in action. Empowerment benefits the leader the most.

Lesson #2: Sharing Bad news is as important as sharing Good news – As a leader, my first instinct was always to “protect” the team, to not let anything demotivate them.  I have learnt now that transparency is extremely critical, you have to trust your teams enough to process all information – good or bad – for them to feel valued and empowered to deal with all situations.

Lesson #3: Learning happens best when experienced and not “taught” – We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves. A leader has to be patient and wait for the right time to transfer wisdom – and the right time is when the team is ready to learn. You have to allow people to make their own mistakes, it’s tough but it is only then that the lesson is most valuable.

Lesson #4: No matter how big the challenge is, a tightly knit team can overcome it – Everyone has unique skills and strengths that can be leveraged to face difficult situations – much like a herd of buffalos facing lions and hyenas, the strongest circle around the herd protecting the one ones who have not grown strong horns yet – all moving together in the same direction.

Lesson #5: Influence is longer lasting than Authority – Today’s organizations are complex and most often have matrix structures. We can gain credibility and make a larger impact in business, without the positional authority of a job title by persuasion, motivation and engagement. The satisfaction and results that I get through these relationships go on longer than titles and reporting structures generally last.

I have learnt so much from my teams – possibly more than they have learnt from me – I end with a big THANK YOU to all my teams, present and past for being my companions on this journey of growth and discovery.

“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.”– Althea Gibson