No Place for Ego

21 Feb No Place for Ego

With one exception, I have always worked in fairly collaborative environments, but I recognize that not everyone shares this experience and many wouldn’t like it if they had. But, collaboration is quickly becoming commonplace in organizations of all sizes. Even if your team doesn’t embrace it, your clients or customers will soon expect it of you, if they don’t already. And, frankly, we need to work together. Gone are the days of the lone cowboy at work. It’s good for our social needs and better ideas are generated when you don’t work in silos.

Bottom line – the best teams work together to get results.

If you are used to an environment where you don’t let your weaknesses show or ask for help, this move can be jarring. My best advice – check your ego at the door! You can’t be an expert in everything and most jobs are now considered team sports. Most of us work in environments that are high pressure with multiple priorities. You can’t possibly do it all yourself, so take the help when it’s offered and seek it if its not.

With most of my career spent at PR agencies, this is easy for me to do. I am used to having my writing ripped apart and my strategies added to by others. I’m used to multiple editors and stakeholders from teammates to bosses, from clients to external audiences. I can’t think of too many, if any, documents or plans I’ve created that were 100% my creation – and that’s okay.

Nearly every person who edits my work has made it better or caused me to think about a problem differently. If I had worked alone, I would grow and learn only when my client gave me feedback – which is a pretty big risk to take. Isn’t it better to fine-tune ideas with a team before you present them to your boss, client or customer?

Checking your ego at the door is not easy for everyone. You need to embrace the idea that collaboration is the ultimate in constructive criticism. It’s designed to improve upon the foundation you’ve built or provide fresh perspective. When people truly collaborate they should inspire each other and build something stronger than any one individual might build alone. They should show respect for the thinking and work you’ve already done and look to improve it rather than tear it down.

If you are a manager and your team is new to collaboration, you must lead by example. Ask for feedback on your work, do a brainstorming as a team and take everyone’s input to heart. Let them see their input in what you produce and eliminate the risk of showing your weaknesses in public. This goes for all levels and roles. Once you have everyone believing that they have a voice and a safe place to use it, they will more naturally take and give feedback to others.

Robin Bectel
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