HR must encourage collaboration

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Or maybe building collaboration requires a collaborative approach with everyone taking shared responsibility. The old law that you can only ever have one person accountable is under increasing ...


Read More Jon Ingham
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Different approaches to collaboration work best for different personality types

HR needs to find ways to overcome humans’ 'caveman' mindsets to encourage collaboration, according to a whitepaper from BT.

Seen exclusively by HR magazine, The Collaboration Conundrum: A WorkShift whitepaper by Nicola Millard, head of customer insight and futures in BT Global Services' innovation team, explains that while the decentralisation of technology is allowing employees to work more flexibly, human psychology could be standing in the way of collaboration. The report found that workers need a common goal and identity to motivate them to collaborate.

It highlighted that not everybody is a natural collaborator, but the leaders of the future must have strong collaboration skills. The report warns that traditional leadership methods are being challenged by new ways of working, and leaders can’t rely on their teams collaborating without direction and support to do so.

The paper cites research from MIT, which found that 94% of high performing organisations instil a strong common sense of purpose among employees, versus 53% of low performers. It also references recruitment company Randstad’s collaboration research, which found that 61% of employees think that they collaborate more than they did five years ago, and nearly nine out of 10 (87%) believe that collaboration is becoming increasingly important as technology changes the way they work.

Millard's report found that different approaches to collaboration work best for different personality types. “Extroverts, for example, love the open plan office,” she explained. “[They] like being able to collaborate and chat when they bump into people.

“Introverts, on the other hand, are likely to build a wall of books around themselves and put their headphones on in the corner. [However], we found they like to collaborate over chat apps, where they can write down their thoughts.”

One of the issues Millard has faced when encouraging collaboration at BT is lack of ownership. “When I’ve asked groups who is in charge of collaboration only one person has ever put their hand up. It turns out they were from IT and looked after the collaboration platform, rather than collaboration itself. Businesses need to figure out who owns collaboration,” she said.

Comments

Or maybe building collaboration requires a collaborative approach with everyone taking shared responsibility. The old law that you can only ever have one person accountable is under increasing challenge today. What is in any case more important is that there is broader involvement. I was at a workplace design conference on Thursday and Friday last week focusing heavily on collaboration but in which there was only one HRD (out of several hundred Property and other people) in the room. When work was largely individual in nature we could be forgiven for not getting too involved in technology or workplace design. Now so much of what we do is collaborative we can't achieve without paying attention to these areas and inviting other functions to get involved in the people and organisation agenda too.


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