Tag Archives | collaboration

Tips for thriving in challenging times – developing our allies & creating a real support network

Over the 20 some years that Meta has been in business now, we’ve seen the best of business practices and the worst. We thought it was time to share some of the best practices we’ve seen in action that can help you to thrive rather than just survive the current challenging workplaces most of us face.

One of the fundamentals is remembering that work is not a solo sport, that we work at our best not when we isolate ourselves but when we feel part of a cohesive team and are valued members of the organisation that we work for.

Us human beings are social animals, and it’s important that we develop our own social support networks in order for us to thrive. No I’m not talking about online social networks but real social networks with real people we meet and contact on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. Research has shown that people with the most active social network links are more likely to feel supported and to have a more positive outlook on life, and those that do not have a strong social network tend to feel isolated, unsupported and have a tendency towards a more negative outlook on life.

So what does this have to do with us at work?
Well, the workplace is essentially an extended social network. If we are to thrive and have a more positive outlook about work, it’s important that we develop our support network within our team and wider organisation.

At Meta we’ve often talked about how important it is to have ‘allies’ within your team and organisations, people you can ally with on certain topics that are important to you that you wish to influence. We also think it’s important to have at least one ‘rant buddy’ someone you can talk to about anything in absolute confidence and have a good ‘rant’ with and clear your chest with. And what’s interesting is, that when we share our concerns with others, we often find a kindred spirit, someone who is feeling if not the very same thing, certainly something similar!

When we are under pressure and under stress there is a tendency to try and do everything ourselves. We struggle to see the broader picture and as we become more pressured and the demands on us grow so our focus narrows and narrows until we can literally only see what is next to do on our to-do lists! The irony is that as workloads get bigger we actually need to think more broadly, get perspective on things in order to accurately prioritise and plan what needs to be done.

Our state is incredibly important. Many people now are not getting enough sleep; many of us are running our fuel tanks on empty. So the first step is to notice where our fuel tanks are, are you running on empty? If so, make sure that you consciously make an effort to re-fuel your fuel tank so that you are more resourced.

The second thing is to ensure that you are not doing everything by yourself. There is strength in working with others, and it’s important to share the problems you face. In this case, the old adage is most certainly true; a problem shared IS a problem halved. By opening up to others we can begin to see that it’s not just us that feels like this, that is encountering these issues. Once we realise we are not the only ones feeling this way, we can start to do something about it. Often other people have a perspective that we’ve just not thought of. They help us to see the problem from other angles, to get a clearer picture and often can help us to come up with a way forward out of our ‘stuckness’, into a more sustainable solution.

So who are your allies in your business? Who are people that it’s important to have as a part of your work support network? If you are a leader, who is in your leaders network? Who do you turn to for advice on best practice and leadership advice?

And of course our support network is not just IN work, it’s also outside of work. We often call on our partners and our friends, but its important that we develop other networks of support, involve others who are perhaps in similar positions in other organisations who can understand the particular issues we face.

There is something to be said about developing a community, a network of people that you can share and learn from, it helps us to build our own inner resilience and to deal with the increasing pressures and workloads we all face.

So look to yourself and your network. Do you have a strong, vibrant active support network? Or could it do with a bit of tweaking, re-building and growing?

We at Meta are here to support you in anyway we can. So remember to include us in your support network and if you’re a leader why not come and take part in our new Meta leadership network? The first event is on April 6th and you can find out more about it on our events page – www.meta-org.com/.events
Have a wonderful month everyone, and if you would like some help with the challenges you face, remember we are here in your corner and are only an email or call away!

Jo and Di xxx

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What are you good at? Most of us have some aspects of our work that we find easy and satisfying, that we do with some enthusiasm. Imagine if, most of the time, that is what was asked of you. If we really worked collaboratively, that is how it would look.

The word collaboration means working together to achieve an end goal. The implication of this is that we each bring our particular strengths to the task, so that we can achieve it more easily and effectively. We use this principle when we have different teams to design something, to implement the design, to test that it works properly, etc., but we often forget a vital element of collaboration: that they work together on it. If the end product is to be as intended, then all of them need to be involved in every stage of the process.

I’m sure you can think of your own examples of where this clearly hasn’t happened: the user guide written in language that the layman doesn’t understand; the chair that looks beautiful but is uncomfortable to sit on; the monitoring process that takes longer than the task it is monitoring.

How do we enhance collaboration?

Collaboration is a mind-set. It is about clarifying what we really want to achieve right at the start of something, and then identifying what each of us can contribute to make that happen. It requires that we let go of the drive to prove ourselves to be ‘the one’, and instead use what we’re good at to make something happen well. What we bring may be a technical skill or it may be a personal quality: how would we manage without the one who lightens the mood, the one who encourages everyone else, the quiet one who spots the way through the discussion to useful action!

Collaboration begins with seeing everyone else involved as a potential ally in achieving an effective outcome. For this to happen, we need two main areas to be built on:

  1. Building relationships in the team as a whole
  2. The ways we communicate with one another

If we don’t really know the other people in the team, then we won’t know what they can contribute, other than their technical skills, and we won’t build the trust that underlies collaboration, and enables us to know who to call on for help, or what they can bring.

And we need to communicate effectively with others, to build and reinforce relationships, and to maintain the feeling of working together. Emails being sent across the office simply don’t cut it!

It is natural to us to collaborate. We are a living model of how to do that well: our bodies are a brilliant example of collaboration, each part contributing to the whole by working together and communicating with each other to maintain the balance required for our health. We could learn from ourselves, and achieve miracles if we chose to!

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