dr carl robinson
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The Currency of Success - Interpersonal Intelligence™

How to Create a Collaborative Approach at Work

As an executive, it’s your job to make sure that the team or your employees meet deadlines, provide deliverables, and continue to progress on your company’s goals. To keep things running smoothly, it may seem like you need to know exactly what’s going on all the time in every department. But micromanagement and overbearing leadership can have a negative effect on productivity, initiative, and goal metrics.

Leaders and executives then ask, “How can I lead this team while toeing the line between being a dictator and getting things done?” The key is to create a collaborative team environment instead of increasing productivity through micromanagement. Your employees will be productive and motivated, and you can still establish authority and maintain boundaries.

Creating a Collaborative Team Environment

For many executives, a prominent and ongoing task is trying to maximize employee skills. One of the best ways to do this is to create an environment where they feel comfortable among their peers and superiors.

Rather than trying to micromanage or please everyone, put together a team of employees who can rely on one another – not just on you. To do this, you must:

  • Establish roles clearly. You are the executive/manager/project leader. Give everyone else on the team a specific role based on their strengths – along with a descriptor of what that role involves. This way, whenever something comes up, there’s someone specifically designated to solve it using their skills.

  • Be clear on the team and company goals. When everyone knows the “big picture” goal, it makes the daily work and your direction much easier to follow. It also serves as a way to bond with coworkers and teammates who are working towards the same goal together.

  • Develop trust. As the leader of a team or group of employees, it’s important that they trust you enough to listen to you and follow the goals you’ve outlined for them. To do this, make sure that you are available for open communication, that you provide positive feedback, and that you don’t pick favorites or sides.

  • Expect open communication. Part of establishing roles and goals is being able to express oneself in the workplace. If your employees do not feel they can communicate, they likely won’t collaborate well.

These are constantly evolving steps; they are not “one and done” tasks. As an executive, you need to ensure that collaborative efforts stand the test of time.

Avoid Crossing the “Just a Coworker” Line

Many executives take a relaxed approach to leadership, hoping that their employees respond to their fun personalities and easy openness. While encouraging your team members to socialize can boost morale and strengthen bonds, be sure to set boundaries for yourself as a leader. Being too relaxed can undermine your authority. It can be difficult deciding whether to be a nice boss so that your employees will like you, or to be tough and distant to inspire respect. Remember that you should be friendly enough to encourage trust and communication, but not so familiar that employees will forget who’s in charge.

While coworkers and peers can rely on each other, you need to make sure that they can function (and collaborate) without your constant involvement. Encourage role development and open communication among employees, while making yourself available for troubleshooting and continued long-term goal development. This way, the team will feel connected to one another, and also have confidence in their own initiative and abilities.