Jiri Lundak

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Closeness

In Collaboration, Leadership, Management, Team, Values on December 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

Here are some thoughts on closeness in a collaborative setting, be it from a managerial perspective, as well as from a purely co-working perspective:

Being very close has surely some downsides:

  • You might have to cope with the intricacies of a quirky person.
  • You see often very clearly the defects of personality in the person you are collaborating with.
  • You may lack some distance to the task at hand.

On the other hand there are a lot of positive aspects to being close to each other:

  • Trust increases between people collaborating closely.
  • You often understand why a person does what she does.
  • You get immediate feedback (emotional, unfiltered) to what you say and do. You can use this feedback wisely.
  • You can influence “in place” the situation, instead of arriving just after the fact.
  • You will know your collaborators so well, you will not need a one-on-one performance appraisal session at the end of the year (if not mandated by others).

For example management decisions communicated via email are more impersonal and open to interpretation than face to face communication, where reasons for a decision can be explained directly. Better yet would be to collaboratively reaching a conclusion. In this case the co-creation of a solution creates a bond of trust and buy-in, that is not possible otherwise.

In the last 10 years this kind of closeness has been practiced in software engineering (think pair programming, co-location of teams and the rise of instant messaging). Unfortunately it did not quite arrive in the managerial sphere above it. There are exceptional leaders practicing it naturally, but most traditionally trained managers are still “managing in a bubble”, disconnected and far away from the people working for them.