Winning Words

Opinion: Collaboration is key to your most valuable players

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As part two of the series on “Retaining Top Talent,” and following up on last week’s column on connection, today we will visit the role that collaboration plays in keeping top talent. Some of the most productive meetings I have ever been a part of included collaboration. Whether it was just two of us or several people in the room, harnessing the power of collaboration always yielded the greatest results.

Think of the world we live in for a moment. We are social beings communicating and sharing information through social media. Although there are those of us who prefer to work alone, the lone wolf mentality has slowly become a thing of the past. We now recognize and understand the value in collaborating with those around us, especially those who are a bit smarter and have additional insights to offer.

One of the key challenges that has plagued organizations of all sizes is that of operating in silos, where departments, and individuals work independently with minimal communication. This is a clear recipe for disaster and yet it is still happening today. The frustrating thing for most companies is that this doesn’t need to happen. Even in the age of the remote workforce, managing and motivating the remote worker, and communicating remotely, it has never been easier to collaborate.

Shared information inspires shared thinking. And shared thinking is the foundation of productive collaboration. As one of my colleagues reminded me recently, we may not always agree, but if there is an understanding that there are no bad ideas, only better ones, we can increase our chances of coming up with new and better solutions or approaches to solving problems.

Collaboration goes a long way to ending the blame game. Instead, we lock arms as we collectively determine the best path forward. Everyone today is looking for an advantage. No one wants to start a new job and feel like they have a huge learning curve, enduring weeks and months of feeling inadequate until they learn the products, processes, and systems of their new company. Job seekers are looking for organizations and teammates who will help expedite their learning and accelerate their success.

Think of it the same way that we see the Most Valuable Player awards given out in professional sports. Whoever receives that award will first recognize their teammates and their coaching staff and typically never take any of the credit themselves. They understand what NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning meant when he said, “The most valuable player is the player that makes the most players valuable.” Just imagine how awesome our companies, teams, and newly hired teammates could be if we all aspired to help one another to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization while helping to meet and exceed our personal aspirations.

Recently we hosted a leadership focus group. It was a very strong group of business owners and top executives. It was a 90-minute discussion on the current thinking around leadership training and the gaps in leadership development for today’s leader and the future leaders of tomorrow. We also invited some students to participate. One student was bold enough to share his thoughts and insights. And as I watched the people in the Zoom meeting, many were taking notes as this young man spoke.

Sometimes it becomes so easy to think we have all the answers, and we don’t need anyone else’s input. It’s also easy to make the wrong assumption that others have all the answers and they do not need insights or input from us. We hope that they will figure it out, leaving them on an island. Our research tells us that the lack of collaboration and support is one of the reasons people leave their position, team, or employer.

Does collaboration happen naturally in your business or on your team? Is there room for improvement when it comes to connecting and collaborating? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@tramazing.com, and when we can work together to create more valuable players, it really will be a better than good year.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

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