Performance Management

Managers Must Align Collaboration and Achievement

By Sharlyn Lauby
March 10, 2016
3 minute read

By definition, collaboration is the act of working with others to produce or create something. According to an article in Harvard Business Review titled “Collaborative Overload”, organizations are [tweet text=”Workers are spending up to 50% more time on collaboration than in years past”]spending more time on collaboration.[/tweet] The article cites up to a 50 percent increase. This is a great statistic, if collaboration is effective and valuable.

It can be difficult to imagine a situation where collaboration isn’t advantageous. But the same study indicates that 20-35 percent of the value-add in collaborations comes from only 3-5 percent of employees. This could imply that the rest of the value-add is coming from top performers who aren’t necessarily engaged in the collaboration process.

[tweet text=”CEOs say their #1 challenge to executing strategy is failure to align”]Global CEOs say[/tweet] that their number one challenge to executing the company’s strategy is the failure to align strategy and execution, which means organizations focused on collaboration have to make sure there is a connection between high performers and top collaborators. They aren’t necessarily the same people. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate:

  • In sports, professional athletes are often recognized for their ability to both score and assist. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers recently joined NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robinson as the only players in history to rank in the top 25 in both points and assists.
  • In some business industries, sales professionals are measured for both individual and team goals. For instance, in the hotel industry where there’s a finite amount of inventory. Obviously, the hotel wants the most rooms at the highest rate. This means that high-performing sales managers have to balance their individual goals with the goals of the team to achieve the overall sales goal for the hotel.

Individuals who can collaborate and perform at a high level bring exceptional value to the business. Therefore, the business solution is to train managers to identify individuals who are BOTH high performers and top contributors. This creates the necessary alignment between collaboration and performance.

The question becomes how can alignment be achieved? There are three ways:

Create alignment through goal congruency. When asked to identify the single greatest challenge to executing their company’s strategy, a study of global CEOs showed 30 percent cite failure to coordinate across units. Goal congruency is the integration of multiple goals between multiple groups. Since managers are responsible for communicating how individual goals and organizational goals are connected, goal congruency encourages individuals to consider the company’s goals and not just their individual goals.

Use manager coaching to encourage goal alignment. A survey done by OfficeVibe says 43 percent of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. Add to that, a Gallup study that indicates employees receiving negative feedback are over 20 times more likely to be engaged than those receiving no feedback at all. The conclusion is clear. [tweet text=”Regular feedback leads to greater results. Read more via @HRBartender”]Regular feedback[/tweet] translates to greater results. Employees are engaged and retained because they are valued as a high performing individual and as a top contributor.

Monitor progress toward goals. Managers need to ensure that the need to accomplish company goals doesn’t have a negative impact on employee well-being. For example, if an employee pulled an “all-nighter” to meet a deadline, that has an impact. Studies by the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that [tweet text=”Missing just 90 min. of sleep can reduce your performance at work by 32% the next day”]missing as little as 90 minutes of sleep[/tweet] can reduce job performance by 32 percent the next day. Reversely, maintaining healthy habit such as regular exercise, can create a cognitive uplift of 23 percent according to the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.

Collaboration is a major component in the way organizations do business today. But collaboration just for the sake of it doesn’t bring value. Collaborative efforts must be measurable and produce results.

This means a manager’s role must be to align organizational culture with support cross-functional work. It’s [tweet text=”Managers must support employees as they collaborate cross-functionally says @Sharlyn_Lauby”]easy to say but it’s one of the hardest things for managers to do[/tweet] – be supportive of their employees working “for other teams” and support employees from “another manager’s department.” But breaking down cultural silos will produce results.

Lastly, managers cannot forget the value of rewarding and celebrating achievement. A well-aligned organization is engaged, productive and effective. That’s totally worth celebration.

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