Maximizing Opportunities & Fostering Collaboration

At a recent mass, I was listening to the homily that talked about Jesus taking his twelve disciples to a place to spend time with them.

When Jesus asked them who had any questions, no one asked because they didn’t want to be looked at as inadequate, as each one of them thought that he should be number one in Jesus’s eye.

As I reflected on this statement, it dawned on me that it is akin to management offsite meetings, where the head of the organization will take their senior leaders to strategize and plan the upcoming year.

This is also an opportunity for their constituents to spend more time with the leader and get to know the leader.

As I reflected on the offsite concept, I found the resemblance intriguing in that frequently the direct reports will look to the offsite as an opportunity to have more face time and impress the leader. Invariably there will be internal competition among the direct reports as to who is the best and who will be next, and so on and so forth. This would result in a bit of a rat race, as no one wants to be left behind or, worse yet, miss out.

Behind the scenes, a true leader serves everyone. Therefore they do not care who gets the most exposure and attention. But is that assumption correct, in that the lack of face time will affect someone’s overall opportunity? My opinion is that it does not directly impact one’s opportunity, because each offsite is based on a specific theme. Therefore the leader will aim to get everyone involved to accomplish the overall objective.

An offsite is a way for management to focus on key topics and get things accomplished in a timely manner. The more collaboration there is the better for the team. Everyone will be given the opportunity to participate and take the lead on certain topics. Here are some suggestions on maximizing your opportunity and fostering collaboration:

  • Volunteer – Volunteer on topics that you’re passionate about. This way you can contribute and be an active participant. Own it, don't just share a few thoughts here and there.
  • Ask Questions – At times participants don’t want to ask questions because they don’t want to be looked at as someone who is incompetent, but the truth is without questions being asked, you cannot explore other avenues or challenge recommendations. At times, a simple question of, “Why are we doing it?” can elicit other questions on the merits and value of the work we are doing.
  • Challenge The Status Quo – Challenge group thinking and ask yourself the true value of what you’re trying to accomplish. For yourself, ask the tough questions and make everyone reconsider their thoughts.
  • Encourage Others To Participate – Paraphrasing other people is a way to validate your understanding and show people you are listening. People want to work with people who listen to them.
  • Don’t Talk To Fill The Space – The last thing you need to do is talk for the sake of talking. Please don’t do that. It wastes time and people will get annoyed at you.
  • Be A Mediator – When no one wants to play ball or cooperate, be the voice of reason and mediate for both parties to come to common ground. It takes a selfless person to not think of themselves ahead of everyone else.

With all the breakout activities the team will be participating in, the leader will have the chance of evaluating their people. It is through their actions that they will be evaluated. There is a saying that talk is cheap. That is true: you want to be noticed, participate, and make it happen.

The true value is showing what you know and how you work with everyone. Don’t compare yourself to your peers and focus on the value you bring to the table. In the end, your leader will recognize your contribution based on the result, not on your words.