Collaboration in the workplace is a necessary element of production in any modern business no matter what size or scope. Moreover, today’s businesses place a high value on collaboration. The ability to work as a team with a diverse variety of co-workers is a definite advantage in building, sustaining, and expanding a company. In fact, teamwork is often placed above practical business skills like accounting, programming, and micro-economics by corporate leaders. Nevertheless, managers still have to balance the merits of teamwork against the dangers of group think and the herd mentality.
It is crucial to make sure all team members are working toward the same objective. Yet a problem can arise if one team member is reluctant to point out a plan’s defects for fear of being ostracized by the group. This was the case with skeptical intelligence officers who were afraid to challenge the plans of General Montgomery at Arnhem, General Mac Arthur at the Yalu River, and President John F. Kennedy’s disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. When people are aware of the views of others, there is a tendency to herd. As participants in a decision, they want to avoid looking foolish by deviating from the majority view.
Due to technological developments, business collaboration has become more frequent. Workers and managers are constantly in touch with each other via e-mail, smart phones, and messaging. But according to recent research, changes in modern communications can both boost or detract financial performance. These results were based on whether or not the subjects acted independently; if they viewed solutions posted by other team members at every stage; or if they were kept informed about each other’s views intermittently. A recent survey found that intermittent collaborators obtained the best results.
This is not to say that unorthodox “out of the box” individual opinions, and constant collaborator groups are useless; quite the contrary. However, it does indicate that when it comes to generating ideas, it’s wise to give workers some mental space to find a new solution to a business problem. Moreover, occasional collaboration can be an added plus, since many people benefit from a colleague’s brain storm, or simple advice to avoid a traditional course of action which might lead to a financial mistake. It may also be possible to measure the effectiveness or collective intelligence of various collaborating groups.
There are psychological and sociological factors that determine how business groups operate. For example, one factor that may determine the effectiveness of group collaboration could be how individual members are able to rate the emotional states of their co-workers. Another factor could be the extent to which members in the group take part equally in conversations (the more the better); as well as the proportion of women in the group to obtain diverse points of view. Groups that rank highly in these areas cooperate better than others because team work remains vital to the business hierarchy.
On the other hand, someone at the top of the corporate ladder still has to make the ultimate decision. At that level, group collaboration may even become detrimental. Indecision, confusion, and feuding at the top of a business organization can cause inefficiency and a loss of profits. Co-leadership can also lead to uncertainty within a business firm as to “who is really in charge.” In the past, there have been infamous battles and wars among Co-CEO executives. Consequently, less than 5% of companies in the Fortune 500 have used a Co-CEO structure since 1989. Collaboration, while a useful tool, doesn’t fit every situation.
Accounting Pro believes the ideal balance is a strong, flexible manager who is willing to listen to, and incorporate, new ideas from both independent and collaborative groups. Our highly skilled specialists are allowed (and even encouraged) to discuss and develop new accounting solutions. We realize it is necessary to make sure all levels of the business pyramid are working as a team toward a common goal. The diverse work force at Accounting Pro is well aware of problems concerning teamwork, especially in the areas of small business start-ups, independent contractors, and freelancers. Join our Accounting Pro “team.”