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Less Collaboration; More Engagement?

July 13, 2022

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Can you have too much of a good thing? Yes. Executives at Microsoft studied their employees and found that too much collaboration actually decreases engagement and productivity.

After examining employees who spoke most positively about thriving at work and work-life balance, they concluded, “By combining sentiment data with de-identified calendar and email metadata, we found that those with the best of both worlds had five fewer hours in their workweek span, five fewer collaboration hours, three more focus hours, and 17 fewer employees in their internal network size.”

While collaboration is important, too much collaboration inhibits productivity with wasteful, time sucking meetings. Leaders should optimize collaboration, leading to less burnout and turnover for employees while improving business outcomes. Some methods to consider include:

  1. Use “All Hands” Sparingly – In order to collaborate better, teams need to collaborate less on those things that matter most. More collaboration often results in increased time and conflict. It’s often better to put one trusted team member over a project.
  2. Big Projects Don’t Always Require Big Teamwork – Look at each project objectively and ask yourself if one or two employees can handle it on their own, or if it’s worth the added time and expense of bringing in more team members.
  3. Ask Yourself “Who are the Necessary Collaborators?” – Ask yourself, “Of all the work that requires collaboration, how much of it requires the total team to be involved, and how much can be done by subsets?”

Reserving high level collaboration for only a select few projects equals less meeting time.  The meetings you do have will be more productive and be quality time spent.

M&M’s retail leadership team recently went through an exercise of reducing the amount of collaboration across their teams in order to improve operation effenciencies. By utilizing the suggestions above, they were able to increase employee engagement while improving their bottom line. Less collaboration cleared both calendar and mental space for employees, allowing them to perform higher-quality work.

By really taking a look at how and when you collaborate, you can increase the effectiveness of your teams.

Source: Fast Company,

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