Are you over-collaborating at work?

Cross-functional teamwork, internet communication, ambitious expansion plans etc. prompt collaboration at the workplace. However, as with everything, excessive and uncalled-for participation by all has a downside as well. It slows down decision-making and affects productivity negatively.

In this post I’d give a few tips on how to identify and curb such excess collaborative activities – both at the employee level and at the leadership level.

At the Employee level

You feel exhausted getting caught up with endless emails, phone calls, meetings etc. Moreover, you are finding you have to ‘stay connected’ to work round the clock thanks to internet connectivity and your office laptop.

Sounds familiar? Well, you are not the only one.

In fact, the vast majority of managers find themselves involved in collaborative ventures more than 80% of their time. This hardly gives you enough space to engage in independent, reflective and productive work, and in decision-making.

To get out of this constant ‘collaborative culture’ you must focus on how to make collaboration ‘efficient’.

Here is how you can do so:

  • Analyze your mindset: Apart from cultural-driven excessive collaboration, your mindset also subconsciously pulls you towards it. For instance, you might have gotten into a ‘good habit’ of always assisting your colleagues in their work and take pride in it – at the expense of completing your own work efficiently.

So, do think rationally and avoid uncalled-for collaboration by saying “no” wherever possible.

  • Streamline your schedule: Streamline your own work schedule by actually being proactive rather than reactive as far as collaborative assignments are concerned. Analyze such projects and de-align yourself from those which do not call for your expertise or contribution in any meaningful way. These serve no purpose other than to waste your time at the cost of your own work.

In a nutshell, ask yourself: Am I actually adding some value to this project?

If not, there is no sense in participating.

At the Leadership Level

  • Involve people wisely: As a leader you might be tempted to ‘put everyone on the same page’ as far as plans and projects go. But, can’t you leverage effective communication channels such as emails to do so, instead of calling in everyone to the meeting who might not have any direct bearing on the project?

So, curtail the actual participants to the minimum so as to avoid wasting time of others. This would increase their workplace efficiency.

  • Prepare the groundwork: Chalk-out and be prepared with the type of meeting and the agenda. Many meetings stretch endlessly and turn into ‘brainstorming sessions’ without any intent to do so at the start.

Be firm, and stick to the guidelines you determine and share earlier, at least 24 hours in advance.

  • Set a ‘meeting quota’: As leaders, curb the tendency of your management calling for unplanned meetings. To do so, first make a note of the number of meetings being called-for during the week. If you see the trend is shooting up, set a limit on these.

This would be your ‘meeting quota’. Then, if anyone calls for further meetings, it would act as a reminder for such manager and he would have to re-think the need for demanding such meeting which exceeds the quota.

Gradually, your management would come to accept a better-aligned collaboration work culture by eliminating useless meetings and ventures.

All of the above pointers would ensure you and your employees learn to justify collaboration activities and improve workplace productivity.

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