Collaboration is taking over the workplace. According to data collected by the authors over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more. There is much to applaud about these developments — but when consumption of a valuable resource spikes that dramatically, it should also give us pause.
At many companies, people spend around 80% of their time in meetings or answering colleagues’ requests, leaving little time for all the critical work they must complete on their own. What’s more, research the authors have done across more than 300 organizations shows that the apportionment of collaborative work is often extremely lopsided. In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees. The avalanche of demands for input or advice, access to resources, or sometimes just presence in a meeting causes performance to suffer. Employees take assignments home, and soon burnout and turnover become real risks.
Leaders must start to manage collaboration more effectively in two ways: (1) by mapping the supply and demand in their organizations and redistributing the work more evenly among employees, and (2) by incentivizing people to collaborate more efficiently. (Read the full article)
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