This week is our company’s Channel Partner Conference here in town. What’s a channel partner, you ask? It’s someone who owns their own company and sells our training programs to organizations with 2500 people or less. This conference is a beautiful example of collaboration between our people and these good folks. We work together to help each other win.
A few years ago, I wrote a book with Eunice Parisi-Carew and Jane Ripley called Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster. We wanted to show people how they can break down silos within their organization and work together to achieve successful results. We created an acronym we call the UNITE model. The letters stand for five elements everyone in an organization needs to put into action to create and sustain a collaborative culture:
- Utilize differences;
- Nurture safety and trust;
- Involve others in crafting a clear purpose, values, and goals;
- Talk openly; and
- Empower yourself and others
How would you rank yourself as a collaborative leader or worker? Below is a list of questions, sorted by each category in the UNITE model, that you can ask yourself to assess your strengths and weaknesses regarding collaboration. Answer Yes or No to each question and keep track of your answers.
- Do you believe everyone has something to contribute?
- Do you ensure everyone in your group is heard?
- Do you actively seek different points of view?
- Do you encourage debate about ideas?
- Do you feel comfortable facilitating conflict
Nurture Safety and Trust
- Do I encourage people to speak their mind?
- Do I consider all ideas before decisions are made?
- Do I share knowledge freely?
- Do I view mistakes as learning opportunities?
- Am I clear with others about what I expect?
Involve Others in Crafting a Clear Purpose, Values, and Goals
- Is my team committed to a shared purpose?
- Do I know the purpose of our project and why it is important?
- Do I hold myself and others accountable for adhering to our values?
- Do I check decisions against our stated values?
- Do I hold myself and others accountable for project outcomes?
- Do others consider me a good listener?
- Do I share information about myself with my teammates?
- Do I seek information and ask questions?
- Do I give constructive feedback—and am I open to receiving feedback?
- Do I encourage people to network with others?
Empower Yourself and Others
- Do I continually work to develop my competence?
- Do I feel empowered to give my opinions during idea sessions, even if I disagree?
- Do I actively build and share my network with others?
- Do I share my skills and knowledge with other departments?
- Do I believe my work is important to the organization?
Now give yourself one point for every Yes answer.
A score of 21 to 25 is outstanding! Keep up the good work!
A score of 17 to 20 is very good. You are definitely on the right track.
A score of 14 to 16 is average. Keep working at it.
A score of 13 or less is poor. Pay attention—there is lots of room for improvement.
In which area did you score the most Yes answers? In which area did you score the least? What actions can you take to improve your skills or attitudes? Did your results surprise you? If so, how?
Remember: None of us is as smart as all of us—and collaboration really does begin with you. Regardless of your role, you can make a difference in helping create a culture of collaboration within your organization. Collaboration is a wonderful thing to see—and even better when you are part of the experience!