Collaboration is a sure way to better efficiency, more creative problem solving and staff engagement. But there’s a very real downside to collaborating too much. Here are three signs that collaboration has gone too far.
Collaboration. It’s what makes a team really work. It is one of the key ingredients that takes a group of people and transforms them into a real team. It’s where you can create moments of brilliance as a team. After all, without collaboration we don’t capitalise on diversity, different ideas, different experience levels, and we don’t use the human capital that we have to the best of it’s ability.
But we can actually create problems when we collaborate too much. We can create mediocrity instead of brilliance. Here’s what to look for:
3 Signs of Over-Collaboration
1) It takes forever to get consensus
This is one of the problems with creating too much collaboration. We spend too much time going back and forth, getting more input and buy-in. All of a sudden critical decisions take too long to happen, and even longer to implement.
Depending on the size of your team or division, you might need to have some areas of a project that are set in stone, and others that can be discussed and collaborated upon. People are generally happy to accept that there are some hard and fast guidelines, but if they can have a moderate level of input, they still feel ownership.
2) You find yourself compromising the solution
This is the single biggest problem with too much collaboration. Over-collaboration can sometimes lead to a feeling that we have to include people’s opinions and come to some consensus. This is wrong. The object of collaboration is to find the best solution. We compromise that solution when we include people’s ideas and opinions just for the sake of making them feel valued.
When we collaborate too much, the best ideas sometimes get watered down, because our feeling is that we have to give everyone a ‘piece’ of the idea to feel valued and create ownership. What we need to realise that that people mostly just want to be heard and validated. They want to have their say and if there’s a valid reason their opinions don’t factor into the final outcome, then that’s generally ok. But you have to listen and give a valid reason.
3) People need to be involved in every decision
This is a classic case of over-collaboration. People suddenly feel the need to be involved in Every. Single. Decision. And if they’re not, they feel disempowered and cheated.
But the reality is that people can’t be involved in every decision. And there are sometimes critical, urgent decisions where collaboration would take too long and be too cumbersome. And there are other decisions where the staff may not have all the information to make the right decision - sometimes because of confidentiality and sometimes because of lack of time and resources.
People need to understand that collaboration is useful but we don’t live in a perfect world. And sometimes there are decisions that need to be made. But they also need to understand that you will collaborate whenever possible. That way when you can’t do it, they know the reason is genuine.
So there you have it. Collaboration is great, but it can go too far. Are your decisions taking too long? Do you sometimes settle for consensus and mediocrity over best practice? And do people feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to being involved?