Fake It ‘Till… Wait, Can We Really Make It?!

Collaboration does not simply mean two or more people “work together” on the same thing.

By Pang Zijun, Facilitator/Implementation Consultant, Arbinger Singapore/Malaysia | January 12, 2021

In my previous job, I used to have Tuesday afternoon meetings with my boss and the whole team to discuss collaboration.

Everyone knows the importance of collaboration, so even though I didn’t like my boss, or whoever I considered as “her people”, I tried to fake “collaboration” anyway, like this:

  1. I ask them what they want from me
  2. I work on what they said they want

The whole process typically involves 2-3 emails, and then I can satisfactorily tick the “collaboration” box and call it a day.

Yes, I was “faking it” as I did it reluctantly, but people always say, “fake it ‘till you make it!”, right?!

But wait a second, clearly if I did “make it”, I wouldn’t be calling it my “previous job” …

The truth is, by “faking it”, we will never make it! In fact, very often, we will screw it.

Why?!

Because values such as collaboration and coordination, are NOT simply a set of behaviours one can fake. They are ATTITUDINAL! They are in fact deeply indicative of our MINDSET, i.e., how we see and regard other people and tasks.

Collaboration does not simply mean two or more people “work together” on the same thing.

Think about the people we had to collaborate with but don’t like. Were we thinking and seeing them as:

  • vehicles to use and get things done? or
  • obstacles to blame when things go wrong? or
  • irrelevancies that are unworthy of any effort to engage.

If we were seeing them in any of these ways, during the process of “collaboration” what were we focusing on the most?

The effort we HAD to put in, to “work with them”?

Or

The effort we SHOULD put in, to finish the task.

Were we complaining and struggling with “why do I have to work with this individual”?

or were we innovative and constantly talking about new ideas?

Most important, think about this, if we were “faking it”, can’t others sense our fakeness, through our tone, our facial expression, our lack of engagement etc.?

For sure they can, and for sure, this is how we normally end up “screwing it”.

We must differentiate between “doing collaboration” and “BEING collaborative”.

“Doing Collaboration” is simply a behaviour, just like my experience in the previous company. It lacks the spirit of true collaboration!

“Being Collaborative”, however, embodies the spirit with which we need to work together, and to achieve the common goal.

That being said, the answer to “lack of collaboration” in an organization, is not sending people to learn how to write nice emails, how to appreciate each other, how to demonstrate gratitude or how to build a fantastic teamwork plan, when “nice”, “appreciation”, “gratitude” and “team” are fundamentally missing in the equation!

The real key element to address and strengthen collaboration, is to shift the way we see and regard each other – our mindset.