by Brandon Harris – Vice President of Operations, Custom Technologies
I was working on a project this week with some of my colleagues. The discussion was amazing. Everyone was giving input and perspective. Any egos were neutralized in the interest of furthering the team. I realized how lucky I was to be in such an environment.
Throughout my career, I have met people who were reluctant to share this kind of collaboration. We all have met these types. They are the ones who hold information close to their vests. The ones who clam up when the discussion gets going. If we are honest with ourselves, there have probably been times that we were like this. But why? Why would any one not want to find the best solution to a problem?
When working on a project, it is important to get as many minds working as possible. Each set of eyes brings with it a different way of looking at the world. Each person has had different experiences that color the way they think. When these different perspectives converge on a project, the project benefits.
In an article entitled, “Four Barriers To Collaboration” Jill Geisler lists some reasons people can be reluctant to collaborate.
She writes, “Geography can indeed be destiny. The layout of your workplace can help or hurt collaboration. The greater the distance between colleagues, the greater the chance of flawed communication.”
“I call this the “Mom likes you best” phenomenon. We don’t collaborate because there’s a real or perceived hierarchy in the workplace.”
“This one’s all about dueling priorities. It happens when bosses tell people they want everyone to collaborate. But at the same time, they assign tasks, targets and goals to various individuals and teams — agendas that vary greatly and can range from complementary to conflicting.”
“If I don’t know you, professionally or personally, if I haven’t a clue how you do what you do, I’m less likely to collaborate comfortably with you. I might be intimidated by your expertise or unaware of what it takes to get your job done.”
These four barriers are present in most manufacturing environments. It is the duty of managers to stamp these barriers out of the workplace. In most cases, doing this is quite simple. The most effective method is practice. Constant collaboration is what it takes. The more open discussions happen, the more natural it will become. The manager should be intensely involved in the process. A key is to remain positive, no matter what the idea being discussed is. Allow each idea to progress through the process and do not criticize. It only takes a little negative to kill the collaborative spirit. With time and patience the group will know that it is safe to say what they think. That should be the goal, a safe place to express ideas.
At Custom Technologies, we live for collaborative efforts. Our team works together to solve the things that give our customers heartburn. We treat the design process like an exercise in communication. We have built our team in such a way that when we look at a problem, we are seeing it from every possible angle. We don’t just collaborate within our own organization, but strive to achieve that same level of communication with our customers’. Our goal is to seamlessly be an extension of our client’s business–where they need additional perspective or work, we’re ready to step in. Collaboration should not be hard. If you are open to other ideas and avoid the common barriers, you can reap the rewards that come from a unified approach.
Jill Geisler · November 6, 2008. “Four Barriers to Collaboration.” Poynter, 2 Mar. 2017, www.poynter.org/news/four-barriers-collaboration.