In addition to your direct boss and immediate teammates, nowadays, to get your own job done, you and everyone else will need to collaborate with a much wider range of colleagues in a much greater diversity of positions, many without clear lines of authority: up, down, sideways, and diagonal.
Think about corporate departments that provide shared services to every other department. Take IT for example: Everybody in every department relies on IT to fix a computer problem, even though IT doesn’t report up to those other departments. Or payroll: If you have a problem with your paycheck, you need to get payroll to work it out for you, even though none of the payroll people report to you or your boss. Or building maintenance: If the toilet is overflowing, who do you call? Or security, human resources, finance, legal, shipping, or receiving. We are all in shared services now—whatever your role, wherever you work—in a restaurant, store, bank, accounting firm, hospital, school, construction site, or battlefield.
The “collaboration revolution” is just a fancy way of describing the need for more and more people to work more and more closely together, more and more regularly, at all levels, in support of each other. Collaboration is just teamwork at a much-heightened scope, frequency, and intensity—brought about by technology, globalization, and decades of restructuring and reengineering.
The goal is to speed up and improve information exchange, decision-making, planning, resource-sharing, and execution—at every level of the organization—and to reduce unnecessary problems and waste.
There’s a lot to love about collaboration revolution. So why is working this way driving everybody crazy? You are inundated by more and more requests from internal customers. Meanwhile, you’re forced to rely more and more on people you cannot hold accountable.
That means the need for more sophisticated people skills development is going to be skyrocketing for the foreseeable future.
Bruce Tulgan is the best-selling author of “It’s Okay to Be the Boss” and the CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done,” is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers on July 21, 2020, from Harvard Business Review Press. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: rainmakerthinking.com.