There is much evidence to suggest that the same techniques used to train animals, either pets or performers, is just as effective with children, spouses and employees. What’s the trick? Positively reinforce the behaviors you want to see continue. The corollary is also true: you need to model the behavior you want others to exhibit.
I raise this issue because in so many of my recent conversations with clients about the adoption of social software and collaboration tools, a huge disconnect emerges. Managers and team leaders say they want employees to ‘play nice together’ but then they actively discourage collaboration through actions, directives and metrics.
You are aghast at this assertion? Well consider a few examples from recent discussions:
- Community leader who refused to use the community team space in the collaboration tool and instead preferred to use email when authoring and updating deliverables.
- Team manager who will not allow employees to add expertise to their social profile to avoid having them ‘poached’ for other projects.
- Leadership team that awards recognition solely to individual contributors.
I suspect there are plenty of examples that we’ve experienced over the course of our work. Please feel free to share stories of actions that discourage collaboration, and, more importantly your suggestions for fixing the problem.