Collaboration is an idea that is instilled in us in myths and legends we are told from childhood ― we’ve all imagined being part of King Arthur’s round table at playtime or had Barney’s song about doing our share during group clean-up time ringing in our ears as children.
The idea is a simple one ― and a practice that probably helped the human race survive. With the burgeoning theory that behavioral memory can be passed down from generation to generation, working together is perhaps even encoded into our very DNA.
And yet how many of us actually practice collaboration ― true collaboration ― once we’re a member of the workforce? For many jobs, there is a defined chain of command that must be adhered to, and (especially for those in lower-level positions) the expectations are oftentimes a simple task of follow-the-leader. It’s no wonder that less than half of American workers feel engaged at work ― those workers feel like their opinions and ideas don’t matter.
Why is it that collaboration is something we learn as children, only to be disregarded as we get older? Why didn’t we just listen to Barney when he told us that we’d manage to clean up our toys more efficiently if we all work at it together, each according to our strengths?
Here at NowSourcing, Inc. we are listening to that beloved purple dinosaur.
From my very first day as a research intern, the importance of working together has been highlighted. Our nature as a team is emphasized in everything that we do, and all of our work is done in collaboration between individual people and departments. It’s not a matter of doing what is told to us, but rather each person contributing our own knowledge and expertise towards achieving a common goal.
For me, part of that process tends to look something like this: after working on a draft for several days, I end up at a place where I think it is the best it can be. From there, I send my work out to the team for review. Inevitably, their feedback, constructive criticism, and suggestions point me in a direction I hadn’t thought of myself, and the revised version following their input is always much stronger than the version I had created on my own.
Not only does collaboration make our work better, but it is more enjoyable to communicate openly and effectively as a team and to have my opinion matter. But don’t take my word for it ― studies have shown that nearly 40% of employees say that their team is the most important reason they stay in their current position. Clearly, working together as a unit is a huge factor in engagement and satisfaction with our work.
Collaboration is an effective, important practice that has fallen away from some modern workplaces. Maybe, like Barney suggests, all we need to do is start picking it up.
Kailyn Beal is a Research Intern at NowSourcing