Today, leadership is about creating influence and driving behavior change without using authority. The days of using power and position to get work done are long gone. For that collaboration in a work environment is key, for an organisation to reach its full potential. At its core, collaboration is about different people coming together and creating value, which is more than what they could have achieved individually.
Alok Nanda, CEO, GE India Technology Centre says that often the common problem in driving collaboration at work is even if every individual is given the same goal, they interpret it differently. It is important to ensure the expectations are clear and everyone is on the same page. He shares, after giving a project he asks his team to write down their understanding of the given task and he finds the results are often different. Ensuring that there is a clear understanding of the goals is crucial, he says. What also helps is to get them to discuss the work to be done and the constraints they face. Discussing challenges helps to develop camaraderie which in turn builds trust and empathy, says Nanda.
Valuing teamwork in itself is not enough but has to be aligned with the company's rewards and recognition programme. The problem is the rewards mechanism is built to recognize individual excellence but when the organisation expects its employees to collaborate it should reward teamwork as well, says Nanda. He shares the instance from GE when they had to reduce costs for the new engine that was due to be launched. He says, since targets were individual linked, people would focus on meeting their own responsibilities and once the goal was achieved they would forget about it. But, then he says they started the practice of team ranking wherein all employees of a team has one rank. He says, that led to a drastic change in mindset and they started working with a single-minded focus towards team goal leading to better collaboration and hence, results.
David Windley, SHRM Board Chair and CEO of IQ Talent Partners says that now there is so much research, that shows, regardless of the industry, repetitive work is taken away over by automation and artificial intelligence and work that requires creativity, judgment, innovation are ones that will be done by humans. He adds, several studies have shown that outcomes are usually better when work is done in teams.
P Dwarakanath, Director, Group HR, Max India and Non-executive Chairman, GSK India, says there is a tendency in HR to look at the feedback of employees in senior level but the people in junior levels are ignored. He shared how at GSK they had built the culture where everyone from top to bottom gave their suggestions and were heard. He shares, due to that culture where everyone could contribute in product improvement, a workman on the shopfloor suggested replacing of packaging Horlics in plastic jars which was later taken up.
"Connect, collaborate and create is what employees need to understand and HR should act as a facilitator to drive this culture," he says.
The speakers were a part of the Panel "The Network Leader: Building Collaborative Enterprises" at the 8th SHRM India Annual Conference 2019.