Episode #134 – Collaboration Techniques for Hybrid Virtual Teams

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In today’s podcast episode we interview Dr. Deb Mashek, PhD, founder of Myco Consulting LLC, and author of the book Collabor(h)ate. Today’s podcast topics aim to share tips for improving relationship quality in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of communal norms, reciprocal information exchange, and interdependence in collaboration. Deb also discusses challenges of virtual and hybrid collaborations, stressing the need for high relationship quality and collaboration training as we Team Anywhere.

Strategies for Increased Relationship Quality

Deb Mashek discusses the idea of communal relationships in the workplace, where people are doing things to make each other’s worlds a little better without expecting anything in return. She emphasizes that bringing the donuts is not about the literal act of bringing donuts but more about contributing to the common good and nudging communal norms. She also highlights the importance of building a sense of team and mutuality in relationships, where people care enough to be curious about others’ values and needs and make decisions that consider and value them.

The Reciprocal Exchange of Information

Deb Mashek discusses the importance of talking about oneself to create meaningful connections. While she warns against becoming a narcissist, she emphasizes the need for reciprocal disclosure and escalating intimacy in conversations over time.In order to foster connection,  Mashek suggests using small talk and being willing to share personal information about oneself. Additionally, she stresses the importance of setting clear expectations within a team and making agreements in case of any glitches. Mashek’s checklist provides useful reminders for creating meaningful connections in the workplace.

The Interdependence Component of Collaboration

Deb speaks about interdependence and the three ways in which work tends to be structured. The first method, divide and conquer, sees individuals assigned specific tasks to do on their own, with the final project being stitched together at the last minute. The second method, sequential workflows, is more interdependent, requiring individuals to hand off their work to others, but still leads to a siloed approach. The third method is pooled, which involves all team members sitting together and figuring out what tasks need to be done, and who would like to take on what responsibility. To increase interdependence, companies should reward and celebrate group accomplishments instead of individual successes. Conversely, if team relationships are strained, the dials of interdependence may need to be turned down, separating people so they can work on their relationships.

Collaboration for Hybrid Virtual Teams

Deb speaks about the challenges of virtual and hybrid collaborations. She compares the experience to being at a bar late at night when the lights turn on and suddenly you can see all the problems that were always there. She explains that the principles of effective collaboration are the same whether in-person or virtual, with high relationship quality and careful consideration of interdependencies being key. Simple gestures, such as sending availability in the recipient’s time zone, can make a big difference. Deb emphasizes the importance of training in collaboration, as it is not something that is typically taught in schools or workplaces.

Who is Deb Mashek?

Dr. Deb Mashek, PhD is an experienced business advisor, professor, higher education administrator, and national nonprofit executive. Previously Full Professor of social psychology at Harvey Mudd College, she is the author of Collabor(h)ate: How to build incredibly collaborative relationships at work (even if you’d rather work alone). Named one of the Top 35 Women in Higher Education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, she has been featured in media outlets including The New York Times, The Atlantic, Business Week, The Hechinger Report, and Fortune. She writes regularly for Psychology Today. Deb is the founder of Myco Consulting LLC, where she speaks, advises, and provides professional development to those seeking to build better workplace collaborations.

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Collaboration Techniques Quotes

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