Characteristics of Collaborators

By Morag Barrett on September 26, 2012

Posted by Morag Barrett | September 26, 2012Characteristics of CollaboratorsI had the opportunity to speak at the Colorado Payroll Conference last week, my two (separate) topics were “The Crisis in Collaboration” and “All Change: Mind the gap between where you are where you need to be.”  I had the honor of speaking on Friday afternoon, at the end of their two-day conference.  A challenging time slot to say the least, I was all that stood between the participants and a well-earned weekend!In both sessions I decided to start with an activity to get the participants out of their chairs and talking with each other.  It always surprises me how often, when attending conferences, people travel in “packs”.  They sit with colleagues from the same company, they seek out friends and acquaintances they already know from other organizations… but please, whatever you do, don’t make me talk to a stranger!  These activities were designed to get them talking and working together, especially pertinent for the “Crisis in Collaboration” section.  The activity in that session resulted (predictably) in three separate towers, none of which met the collective success criteria (each team receiving only part of the instructions).  Feel free to call me if you’d like to know more about what happened!Once we had got past the lack of collaboration in the opening collaborative exercise that simply reinforced the “Crisis in Collaboration”,  I asked the participants to share their real world experiences of collaboration at work.  Who were the three role models, and what was it that these role models did, or did not do, to make it to the shortlist.  The behaviors that were shared included:They listened to others’ ideas and suggestions.They asked questions to increase understanding.They were curious, eager to learn and to share their learning.They sought out new perspectives and acknowledged people’s contribution.They made others feel valued.They broke down the walls and silos that prevented communication and collaboration.When the participants reflected on these characteristics (and there were plenty more), they recognized immediately that they weren’t a reflection of how smart the individual was, it wasn’t even about their technical know-how.  The characteristics that made them successful at collaborating and working with others were all about their people skills, their ability to connect and work well with others.  When asked if they would want to work with this person again, the answer was a resounding “yes”. These same characteristics are reported when I ask about “Best Bosses” or “Best Colleagues.”While processes designed to drive collaboration are no doubt useful, when tools (such as SharePoint) are provided it can help.  Ultimately, collaboration is about the conversation, the personal connection.  One has to value the concept and behaviors to make it a reality.How are you role modeling the values and behaviors important to your organization and your success?Who do you need to collaborate with?Related ArticlesTags »collaboration Share
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