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How To Succeed at Collaborations

October 1, 1995
Nine ways you can make collaborations work:

    Get the most senior-level management to support the program. Otherwise, the goals won't filter down to the employees who are implementing the changes.

    Value each other's input. Although they're in different industries, New York Hospital respected the kind of customer service The Pierre offers its guests.

    Utilize an outside facilitator. It's important to review progress on a regular basis and to drive the project. Marife Hernandez played that role in this case.

    Go beyond the department heads and bring in HR management staff from both sides. In this example, instead of Regina Allen and Shelley Komitor meeting exclusively, they each included two other staff members. The additional people add greater depth and help in describing the culture.

    Your goals and expertise must match.

    Attempt to make the goal of the cultures similar. In the Pierre-New York Hospital scenario, both believe that excellent customer care begins with strong employee relations.

    Select individuals who are flexible and willing to be influenced. It's worth the effort. People on both sides are more comfortable sharing. Receptivity is contagious. Individuals who are inflexible and defensive put up roadblocks and make the process more difficult.

    If possible, hold meetings in the actual environments being discussed. This allows the group to easily visualize the places and changes they're talking about. For example, the meeting at The Pierre took place in one of the suites, and coffee was served; the meeting at New York Hospital illustrated the magnitude of the number of people and the space they were attempting to work with.

    Encourage Public Relations departments to look at such programs as good story material. Publicity can both boost morale and strengthen participation.

Personnel Journal, October 1995, Vol. 74, No. 10, p. 125.