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Expert Advice To Avoid Collaboration Pitfalls

Your office hopes to smooth out its operational wrinkles by centralizing IT and sharing services across the company. The newly-designed Web site will schedule IT jobs based on priority, therefore avoiding conflicts among employees.

However, managers find it faster to bypass the Web site and talk to IT reps directly. Now, IT assumes anything on the Web site is low-priority. Conflicts skyrocket as the site’s collaborative power backfires.

Strategic relations consultants Jeff Weiss and Jonathan Hughes, of Boston’s Vantage Partners, use the above scenario as an example of collaboration theory gone awry. In creating the Web site, the company took a step in the right direction -- but those good intentions fell by the wayside thanks to the company’s collaboration mistakes.

Use this expert guidance to tackle the three main myths about collaboration -- and come up with better solutions for your team:

Myth #1: Forcing Collaboration Will Work. As the above case shows, if individuals can find a better way to get the job done, they’ll do it. A collaborative solution must solve problems in the most efficient way possible. Be sure to ask, "Will employees actually use this system? How could they get around it?"

Myth #2: Collaboration Means "Team." Your teammates are already a team. You’re more likely to see extra-departmental conflicts arise, such as when your team has been waiting on the finance department to approve a travel budget.

Finance, meanwhile, can’t understand why it should drop everything to finish this one project. For this situation, Weiss and Hughes recommend company-wide conflict-resolution training, not just teambuilding exercises for your area.

Myth #3: Incentives Fuel Collaboration. Often, a well-intentioned contest to see which team can exceed at a goal, for instance, will foster individual competition instead of group collaboration. Instead, motivate your team the old-fashioned way: with raises and opportunities to grow.


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