By Jen Sweeney
In primary school, the ability to play well with others is a celebrated behavior. It teaches children cooperation, when to lead and when to follow, and how to solve problems. For adults, that behavior is called collaboration, and, in the workplace, mastering it is just as critical to success.
The enterprise focus on collaboration has increased over the last decade—advances in technology, new behavioral research, and economic necessity have dramatically altered the business world’s approach to work and productivity. Closed-door meetings are giving way to cross-departmental, cross-continental Skype sessions. Opacity is out—transparency is in.
We have an abundance of tools to enable us to work better together, whether we’re in the same office or continents apart. We also understand that smarter collaboration can deliver abundant benefits—not only to the business, but also to each of us individually.
Still, many organizations have implemented collaboration solutions that have failed because of one or a combination of reasons, including low adoption and lack of business leader buy-in. Change rarely happens without effort or struggle.
A recent eWeek article highlights some of the reasons enterprise collaboration results in frustration and disengagement or outright failure for employees, including insufficient direction from the top down, technology that’s not intuitive or easy to use, and inadequate support or training to drive adoption.
A critical factor in a project’s success, and one that’s often overlooked, is the person using the technology. While business leaders should assume a share of the responsibility for adoption of new technology, we—as users—can also take steps to get more out of the technology provided.
For example, if your organization implements a collaboration solution or any new technology without also communicating the what and why, speak up. Find out which executive is sponsoring it and ask how it’s tied to organizational goals. Ask how you can get help learning how to use the software, and whom to call for support if you’re stuck on an issue.
While business leaders should assume a share of the responsibility for adoption of new technology, we—as users—can also take steps to get more out of the technology provided.
Keep a notebook (physical or digital) to record any questions or non-critical issues you run into throughout your work day. Encourage your colleagues to do the same. Is there a common stumbling block? Are there any tasks that can be streamlined? Which features would you like to learn how to use? Ask your manager if training and support is available for the features you rely on the most, and for guidance on how you can best use the software in general.
In today’s enterprise, you have more control over where you work and the technology you use to accomplish it. By taking a more active role in how to work, you not only ensure you have the tools to work smarter, but also the support to achieve your professional and organizational goals.