WHAT’S THE BASIS OF A SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION?

I’m currently reading an excellent book that inspires me to reflect on our lives as human beings on this planet: how we live and interact with each other. Maybe you’ve heard about SAPIENS, A brief history of humankind from Yuval Hoah Harari. After one page, I was captivated even if I had a great deal of respect for the thickness of the book and the small size of the Fonts!

The title says it all… so it’s our story describing our evolution through various revolutions. Being the only mammals able to communicate abstract thoughts, we live through stories, agreements, mythologies, beliefs that we made up ourselves (what the author calls “imagined orders”). For good and for bad.

It’s a lot of information to digest. Things are looked at from a totally different angle than we’re used to. So my brain needs to adjust the same way my body needs to adjust to a new time zone. I reflect on the information, I ask myself questions and I sometimes decide to make my own opinion on a specific aspect. You bet that I love it! If you’ve been following my CaroliNews for a while, you can imagine how well it nourishes my philosophical tendencies…

And this week, I received a management magazine with the title “Cooperation 4.0”, the 4.0 referring to the digitalisation era. Now you’re wondering: what do these two written pieces of work have in common? They both relate to how the human beings organise themselves to work (and live) together.

It occurred to me that there is a common key to a successful collaboration whether we speak about a tribe who lived on earth 10,000 BC or if we think about a worldwide team of IT-specialists in the year 2150: TRUST. Yes, the word of the month! (it was a long introduction this time…)

But what is TRUST? We cannot touch it but we can get a feeling of what it is. We can also find definitions in dictionaries but in our real life, we will make different experiences of it sometimes even with the same persons! Some will say that you have to work at building TRUST with others, while others will say that TRUST does exist from the start otherwise, you have to forget it.

Even when you look in the dictionary, you’ll find different definitions. Something like “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of something or someone” or even “care, custody”. That may imply that it’s generally easier to TRUST someone who shares your values, beliefs and views of the world than to TRUST someone who holds a different “truth”.

Maybe it was easier to TRUST the people of our tribe 10,000 years ago. We were living in small villages without being exposed to other cultures, beliefs, stories. We villagers shared the same “imagined orders”. Today we work and live in environments where we are constantly exposed to other cultures, beliefs, values that we know so little about. How can you TRUST a colleague who is new in the organisation and works 5,000 km away from your desk? In this case, the good thing is: you both work for the same company, which is a beginning, a common ground.

Look at the colleagues you work together with – those who sit in the same building and those who work in another time zone. Give a grade from 0 to 5 (5 being “excellent”) on the level of TRUST that you feel for each of them. What are the criteria that determine that level of TRUST? Is there a corrolation between the level of TRUST you have and the quality of the work you produce when you work with that person?

For those who obtained 3 or less, ask yourself if there is something that you can do whether to build more TRUST or to restore a sound level of TRUST. As a suggestion, you can try to get to know that person better by having a conversation during a (virtual) coffee break or by having lunch only the two of you. (I don’t recommend to start the conversation with “We have a TRUST issue”! That will go wrong! Because in using “we”, you include that colleague who may be totally unaware that you gave him/her a low grade. And because using a “TRUST issue” sounds so dramatic…).

* So just be curious.
* Exchange stories.
* Exchange expectations.
* Listen to understand.
* Speak from an “I” point of view.
* Get in the other person’s shoes.
* You’ll do a lot of good for that level of TRUST.

Or you may need to let go of old stuff that was done in the past and move on to make space for TRUST again in that relationship.

If you only gave 4’s and 5’s, keep on with the good work! I’ve said it before: we usually do not have the chance to choose our colleagues. And whether we want it of not, we’ll always depend on others in the small and big things in our lives. Knowing that TRUST is a key to success, make sure you contribute to build and sustain a strong level of TRUST.

The word TEAM would also have been a good choice for this month and I came up with a refreshing definition of it:

Together
Empowered
And
Motivated

Enjoy the coming weekend!

Inspiringly yours,
Caroline