As I discussed in my last post, there are really two parts to staying engaged at work – identifying what “good employee engagement” means at your organization, but also defining it for yourself. Even if you ultimately decide to leave your job, you want to leave on good terms, so your engagement matters. If your organization values collaboration, it is critical to identify that and then figure out how to play well with others.
How to know if your organization values collaboration:
- You have an open seating plan, offices without doors
- You work on a team
- You attend brainstorming or idea mapping meetings
- Your meetings tend to be large, with a lot of participants
- Your manager assigns multiple people to work on the same task together, rather than assigning each task to a separate person
Three tips for playing well with others:
- Never guess what your boss wants to see – Collaboration is one of those jargon words that has been overused and distorted. The leadership at your organization may say that they want to see more collaboration, but what they really mean is that they want you to make sure you have multi-department buy-in for major decisions. Or they might say “collaboration” when they really mean “camaraderie.” Please do not schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss collaboration. But at your next performance review, or casual conversation about your performance, bring it up in relation to your own role. Talk about whether or not you asked for enough input on your last project. Is there anyone else you should have spoken with? Does he or she have any suggestions for how your team can work together more effectively?
- Set goals for your week – Now that you have a better idea of what good collaboration looks like at your organization, you need to incorporate some of those practices into your day-to-day work. This does not have to be a complicated project. Over the next week, start by making a list of different ways you could be more collaborative, in line with the discussion you had with your manager. Then when you plan out your week (e.g. Monday morning, Friday afternoon, Sunday night, etc), pick one or two new things to try. Baby steps only. After a month or two of taking a few small steps each week, your performance improvement should be measurable without any drastic changes or additional stress.
- Balance outside of work –Harvard Business Review recently published an article about the deep connection between our behaviors at work and our behavior outside of work. The take-aways suggest that participating in a few fun collaborative activities outside the office, like joining a softball team, will help you to play nicely with others inside the office. In other words, if you spend all of your time outside of work sitting alone knitting (as enjoyable as it may be), it may be that much harder for you to collaborate in the office. Having said that, as a proud introvert, many of us have to balance our social time with alone time. Don’t go overboard, but be aware that what you do outside of work can help you to cultivate a collaborative mindset.
Is collaboration important at your organization? How have you improved your collaboration skills?