Few of us truly work alone. We have co-workers, bosses or clients, and we depend on the expertise, information or money of others. Oftentimes, our work relies on the approval or support of others. Therefore, securing that support is a valuable skill.
To get people on board, it helps to have an idea with a strong purpose, but it’s even better when that idea inspires and evokes the emotions of others.
There are different ways to do this. For example, you can play to powerful feelings like fear, anger or resentment, which you can do by addressing a sensitive and pressing issue. And then you can touch on feelings of hope, joy and excitement with an idea that promises to fix that issue and make the future a better place.
The British chef, Jamie Oliver, grabbed people’s attention and their emotions when he called for better food to be served in schools. At a West Virginia school, he had a mountain of fat dumped in front of students and their parents – an amount equal to the yearly fat consumption from the current school lunches. This definitely touched on feelings of anger and disgust about poor eating habits. Oliver then switched gears and made a plea to their passion and hope by raising the prospects of a new and healthier future.
While these are great tactics to gain the support of others, we still meet resistance from time to time. Fortunately, there’s a way to get the support of people who oppose your ideas. By using smart grit, you can persevere with clever tactics that neutralize any resistance.
One of the best tactics is to assume the perspective of your opponent. This way you can prepare a tailor-made response to address quickly whatever concerns are sure to arise. If you’ve ever worked as part of a team, you’re likely familiar with how much of that work takes place in group meetings – it’s where the big decisions are taken to determine how projects move forward. So it stands to reason that knowing how to hold effective meetings is a crucial skill.
If there’s one way to simplify the best approach to meetings, it would be: Fight – then unite!
This might sound counterintuitive at first, but a good fight can be extremely useful. It allows people to debate, scrutinize opinions and speak their mind. In this environment, ideas can flourish, whereas, in a silent and sleepy meeting, no one will feel like challenging the status quo.
While a heated debate is a good start, the discussion shouldn’t go on forever. The second and equally important part is to unite. From the very start of the meeting, the entire team should be committed to respecting and implementing whatever final decision is made by the team leader.
According to the author’s study, teams who follow the “fight and unite” method perform better than teams that don’t. Now, if you want to ensure that your fights are constructive, you should make every effort to bring together a diverse team.
Obviously, if everyone on the team is like-minded, with similar backgrounds and viewpoints, there’d be no conflict, the fight wouldn’t progress, and no innovative ideas would emerge.
When the author researched team performance to rank the top 2,000 CEOs of public companies, he was surprised when Bart Becht, the CEO of a small London-based company called Reckitt Benckiser, came in sixteenth place.
Becht not only encouraged “constructive conflict” in his meetings, but he was also ranked alongside famous CEOs like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos because he made sure those meetings included people with different opinions and perspectives.
When talking to the author, Becht elaborated on the kind of personal differences that mattered to him: not nationality, job title or anything like that, but experience, pure and simple. When people with different experiences come together, the magic happens, and the exciting new ideas begin to emerge.
There’s no doubt about it; great things can happen when people collaborate. However, there are good ways and bad ways to facilitate collaboration. The author points to overcollaboration and undercollaboration as two common mistakes companies can make that end up hurting overall performance.
In some organizations, people can feel forced to collaborate, even if they are highly experienced in a task and don’t need any outside input to excel in their job. This is what’s known as overcollaboration, and as a result, they end up wasting time and energy with a collaborator who ultimately offers no new insight.
On the other hand, there’s the undercollaboration scenario, where people fail to collaborate when it’s crucial to get outside help. In these cases, the performance will end up being a fraction of what it could have been.
Undercollaboration can be extremely unfortunate, especially in medical scenarios. Back in 2012, the hospital system in Fort Dodge, Iowa, still didn’t have a way to exchange patient information readily between the various medical departments. Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon for a patient to be treated in one department by a doctor lacking important medical history from another. Unsurprisingly, the hospitals in Fort Dodge had a high readmission rate back then.
The right way to go about it is to practice disciplined collaboration. This is how the top performers collaborate, and it’s about recognizing and choosing to collaborate only in activities that promise to offer value.
According to the author’s survey, people who practice disciplined collaboration outperform under- and overcollaborators by 14 percent.
So, if you’re not sure if a certain collaboration scenario is worthwhile, just ask yourself if it adds any benefit or value to what you and the other potential collaborators are working on. Keep this in mind when you’re trying to talk collaborators into working with you – if you really want to win them over, be sure to describe all the ways they can benefit.
At the chemical company Agilent Technologies, the business unit manager, Mike, needed to convince the life sciences unit to collaborate on a new chemical liquids device. After getting turned down the first time around, Mike successfully wooed them once he produced calculations that showed how, within a period of eight years, the results of the collaboration would likely add a value of nearly $1 billion to the organization. That certainly got the life sciences unit interested.
As with much of the other advice, using collaboration to its maximum potential is about striking the right balance and understanding the real value of your work.
Being great at work is about more than just talent and effort – it’s about working smarter. After crunching the numbers of a massive survey, the author Morten T. Hansen found some common habits and techniques that can help anyone get better results at work. These include being obsessively focused on one task at a time, being both passionate and purposeful, having a diversified team, and knowing the right time to collaborate. Have you done all the three?
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