Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners
In This Issue…
Creating a Collaborative Workplace: Amplifying Teamwork in Your Organization
The Paradox of Leadership: Cooperating to Compete, Following to Lead
Flashback Feature: Layoffs and Survivors' Career Motivation
Creating a Collaborative Workplace: Amplifying Teamwork in Your Organization Brenda Barker Scott, Queen's IRC Facilitator, 2017
Let’s begin with a question. Are you experiencing barriers to working collaboratively, even though you know collaboration is necessary? If you answered yes, this article is for you.
We all know that contemporary work requires collaboration. In our fast-paced, knowledge-intensive workplaces, success requires people to integrate and leverage their efforts. However, knowing that collaboration is essential and being able to foster collaboration, are two different things. Indeed, collaborative failures are commonplace.
As an academic and practitioner, the question I hold is: how can we design organizations to foster necessary collaborative work? Two core assumptions are inherent in my question. The first is that organizations must understand their collaborative work needs. In other words, to support purposeful collaboration, leaders must first step back and reflect on the basic question: what work will benefit from a collaborative effort? While seemingly simple, this question requires leaders to rethink the very nature of how work is framed, assigned and distributed. A second core assumption is that collaborative work cannot simply be overlaid on top of traditional contexts. Rather, collaborative efforts require a system of norms, relationships, processes, technologies, spaces, and structures that are quite different from the ways organizations have worked in the past.
Below, I share the learnings I am acquiring through my research and practice around how collaboration is changing, and the ecosystem of supports that enable it.
The Paradox of Leadership: Cooperating to Compete, Following to Lead Bernie Mayer, Ph.D., Queen's IRC Facilitator, 2016
For most of my adult life I lived at the foot the Rocky Mountains (the Colorado ones), and I have frequently led family, children, and others on hiking, ski touring, and mountain biking trips. I wasn’t mostly the formal leader (and others in my family may dispute this characterization), but I often felt that it was my responsibility to make sure we got to where we intended to get to, when we intended to, safely. Almost always, the best position for me to take to make sure we stayed together, that those who needed help or encouragement received it, and that the needs of the group were attended to, was at the back of the pack.
“Leading from behind” is a natural approach in the outdoors. It is natural in organizations too. It may sound like a passive or ineffective way to approach the challenge of being an effective leader, but I found, both in the outdoors and in organizational leadership positions, that this is the most powerful way to guide a group. The idea of leading from behind is not a new one for organizations or for communities,(1) but learning how to do this, particularly in a hierarchical structure, is no easy matter. One key dimension of this is defined by our approach to conflict. How we set the stage for the effective use of conflict and how we respond to conflict is critical to our effectiveness as leaders and to our capacity to “lead from behind.”(2)
Flashback Feature: Layoffs and Survivors' Career Motivation Kevin G. Fowke, 1998
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers have been laid off during the organizational restructuring of the past decade. Although the laid-off worker has been extensively studied, until recently there has been very little research on the effects of layoffs on those who remain in the downsized organization – the survivors. This study helps to close that gap in the research by identifying the factors that help to determine the career motivation of survivors. It also provides practical advice for minimizing the detrimental effects of layoffs.