How to Get Others to Work With You

Have you ever felt frustrated because other people are not working with you? The technical word for this is a lack of collaboration. (By the way my wife, a Latin scholar, tells me the word collaboration comes from the Latin "co" meaning "with" and "labor" meaning "to work"). This is an important issue because collaboration is fundamental to success in so many areas of life, especially franchising.

Collaboration is not just franchisors and franchisees working with each other, it's also franchisees working together. This may sound like common sense but it doesn't always happen. I was on the phone recently to a franchisor who was bemoaning how some of his franchisees are actually working against each other.

In a fascinating study on this topic, four experts on collaboration - Mitch Ditkoff, Carolyn Allen, Tim Moore and Dave Pollard - asked 108 experienced collaborators to rate the importance of 39 criteria when selecting teammates to work with. Some of the criteria related to experience, knowledge and skills; some to personality characteristics; while others related to attitudes.

It turned out that three of the criteria were rated almost unanimously at the top of the list, and as indispensable. These were:

1. Showing enthusiasm for the subject of the collaboration.
2. Being curious and open-minded.
3. Being frank and honest.

(Others such as following through on commitments were also high, but not seen as indispensable). On the other hand, many of the experience, knowledge and skills based criteria were rated at the bottom of the list. The researchers concluded that great attitudes such as enthusiasm, open-mindedness and candor, seem to overcome a shortage of experience or skills in making a team work.

Cultivating these attitudes in oneself and others

The more I think about these findings the more they resonate with my experience in franchising. There are numerous situations where franchisees and franchisors have to collaborate if they are to deliver value to each other. For instance consider the difference these three criteria make to the effectiveness of field visits, franchisee meetings or Franchise Advisory Councils. What is particularly exciting is they are attitudes that can be cultivated in oneself and encouraged in others.

So when preparing to collaborate with others, first think about your own attitudes. Do you have that genuine enthusiasm or commitment to be involved? If not, maybe you need to think about the deeper purpose behind the activity.

Next, consider whether you are open to learning, listening to feedback and searching for new ideas to achieve your purpose. We all need to be vigilant to the defensiveness that so often creeps into our relationships and discussions.

Lastly, do you have the courage to speak the truth, to express disagreement on issues that genuinely do not sit with your own experience, and to name it when things are not working? (You may remember this was the topic of my last tip.)

We'd like to collaborate with you

Speaking of collaboration, we are about to launch a large collaborative project and I need your help. It's an international research study where we seek to identify the personal and social factors that impact on the success and satisfaction of franchisees. As part of this exciting project all participating franchisees and franchisors will receive invaluable feedback aimed at improving their profitability and satisfaction. To find out what it's all about and register your company's interest just click here. Looking forward to collaborating with you.

Until next time,

Greg Nathan

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