As economic pressures continue to make the workplace tone somber (except for the drumbeat of occasional Terrible Office Tyrant tantrums!), I’ve been sharing ways to minimize friction at work. This week I’d like to offer to you another one of those techniques: collaboration. Knowing that you and your colleagues are all in the same boat, and putting aside differences to work together can make a big difference.
In tough times, there are two common reactions: a gloomy outlook that things will worsen – and a unique bonding experience where co-workers (and even bosses and customers) come together to make lemonade from the lemons that seem to be falling from the sky. It’s natural to have a few doubts and concerns about your job, company, and the economy, but ultimately, you want to make good things happen just like everyone else.
Even though collaboration is “mutual,” it can begin with you. Start by making a mental list of tasks that could benefit you and your team. It could be a new customer initiative, cost-cutting innovation, or a simple team-building project, such as organizing your general workspace. Check in with your boss before you start, and explain that you want to help get everyone into gear and out of the doldrums. Ask for help in defining specific tasks and timetables, and get input on who should participate. Your boss will, in all likelihood, love your initiative and pledge support to your efforts.
Once the project is a go, start recruiting co-workers. If you’re leading the charge, make sure that your goals are clear, and that you’re assigning tasks appropriately. If it’s more of a team effort, be sure to give it your all. You might make planning meetings a brown bag lunch, or an end-of-the-day event with the team’s favorite snacks – but above all, encourage open-minded, participatory and enthusiastic forums.
Remind your peers, “we’re all in this together.” The best way to ensure job security these days is to join as one and help your company make it through these tough times. As someone who cares – and is willing to do something about it, you will benefit in your own way. Meanwhile, those tantrums might even turn into low murmurs as you help boost morale.