Collaboration is the buzzword of the day it seems. It’s what we all should want, the magic bullet, as it were, for some of the workforce’s most pressing issues. But… but what of the introverts, the individual contributors, those who prefer to NOT collaborate?
Have you made space in your workforce for those people? After all, if we’ve learned anything from our work with workplace assessments, work values and personality tests, it’s that we’re all different. Why should collaboration be any different? The problem that many people who eschew collaboration can have is they may come off as “not a team player” or “aloof” or “difficult”. In fact, these contributors are often not credited with their positive attributes like “highly focused” “Self-motivated” and “works well under pressure” — which in many workplaces can be even more valuable.
Some suggest that lack of a “collaboration gene” may be due to the right person being on the wrong team. Others suggest (rather hilariously) that perhaps these folks like collaborating…from a distance. LinkedIn ran an article stating that the whole “team player” thing might just be a corporate hoax designed to stress us all out. This Guardian writer had this to say about teamwork and collaboration:
“For some people, teamwork can provide the kind of support that boosts confidence and brings out the best possible performance. For others, however, it creates the kind of co-dependency that can hold you back on decision-making until you’ve consulted every member of your team, assessed their relative views and made an informed choice. The wrong kind of teamwork can make you lazy and teach you not to trust your own instincts. It can also breed resentment: it’s very difficult to smile graciously when you’ve single-handedly made something happen and have to sit through endless praise for the “wonderful team effort”.”
If you’re not a team player, but rather a collaboration zombie slayer, relax, you can find a way to:
- Change the way you collaborate (perhaps from a distance)?
- Change the way collaboration is rewarded or recognized (project management systems are great for this!)
- Change the team you are on (this could be a little hard but still possible).
- Change how you talk about it. Be honest with coworkers about your desire (or lack thereof) when it comes to collaboration.