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Archive for May, 2011

Many companies encourage collaboration, flat organizational hierarchy and transparency, and refer to their culture as having “an open door” policy. But just having the door open is not enough. Are your managers skilled in listening without judgement? Do they know how to turn the conversation from a complaint into a constructive discussion and plan to make things better? Most importantly, do they know when to keep the communicated opinions and concerns to themselves and move forward without predjudice for the messenger, or does the the open door become a trap door in the floor.

If you really want feedback from your employees you must not be punitive when they speak up, or culturally you’ll end up with lots of open doors, but no one sitting in the room with you.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of collaboration. But if it is deployed as a fad or business trend, it could do more harm than good. Collaboration means utilizing varied skills, disciplines, views and experiences in search of the best and most efficient solution. What it is not is a means to ensure everyone is involved in every decision with an equal vote. To be avoided is the burning building scenario. If the building is on fire, it is not a great time to brainstorm ideas, take a vote on the best exit strategy and most importantly, to do nothing until consensus is gained. That method kills everyone.

Even in collaborative environments, ground rules must be set, timelines adhered to, and individuals selected to be part of the collaboration based on their ability to contribute.

My two cents of course.

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