Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms

Challenging the Status Quo: Deep Collaboration and Its Role in Team Performance with Dr. Tanvi Gautam

February 07, 2024 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 4 Episode 192
Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms
Challenging the Status Quo: Deep Collaboration and Its Role in Team Performance with Dr. Tanvi Gautam
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Hey there, Rebels! Are you ready to challenge conventional thinking? This week, we have the luminary Dr. Tanvi Gautam, author of Deep Collaboration: Five Crucial Conversations to Accelerate Team Performance Across Silos, accompanying us on our journey. Prepare to blow the lid off the dusty idea of silos and unravel the true potential of a deeply collaborative team.

Our conversation with Dr. Tanvi Gautam strikes right at the heart of an age-old issue: lack of effective collaboration. We dissect how we, as HR professionals, may unknowingly be the architects of these silos. Ever referred to your workplace as a "family"? We'll talk about why this could be doing more harm than good. Then we go deep into the world of collaboration and explore how it can catalyze exceptional success in your organization. We'll steer away from traditional metrics and set our sails towards ones that value collaboration, learning, and future opportunities. Dr. Gotem will even share practical steps to foster deep collaboration, starting with cultivating an interdependent mindset.

Now, if you think collaboration is all about playing nice and agreeing with each other, hold on to your seats, Rebels. Dr. Tanvi deftly navigates the role of vulnerability in fostering a culture of inclusion and collaboration. We’ll ruminate on the five dimensions of collaboration and how trust and openness are the bricks that construct an interdependent team. No Rebel HR podcast would be complete without addressing some hard truths. We'll discuss the harsh realities of layoffs and why respectful and humane practices are non-negotiable. Finally, we'll tackle diversity and inclusion, dig into the trenches of unconscious bias, and discuss how to combat it. Trust us; this is a conversation that will change the way you see your workplace.

Join us, Rebels. Buckle up, and let's challenge the status quo together!

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Speaker 1:

This is the Rebel HR podcast, the podcast about all things innovation in the people's space. I'm Kyle Rode. Let's start the show. Welcome back, Rebel HR community. This is going to be a fun conversation. Today with us we have Dr Time V Gotem. She is the author of the new book that's coming out here in March of 2024, Deep Collaboration Five crucial conversations to accelerate team performance across silos. Welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Hello Kyle, Thank you for inviting me. What a great title for a podcast. I love it.

Speaker 1:

I appreciate that we were talking about that. I want to thank you again for spending some of your time with us. You were coming all the way from Singapore, so 13-hour time difference between the two of us Morning for me and evening for you. Thanks for spending the evening with us.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for doing the early morning shift.

Speaker 1:

Hey, we're used to that. This is HR. We're shiftless workers at some times. Thank you again for spending some time. I'm really excited to dig into the book. I'm excited to learn a little bit more about your focus and approach. I want to ask you, when we start here, the question that I ask most authors, which is what motivated you to write a book about deep collaboration? What prompted that?

Speaker 2:

Well, during the pandemic, I was doing a lot of work with organizations that were trying to figure out new business models, how to be more innovative, and a lot of them were coming to the recognition that we live in a world where we want to tap into intersections and I often say innovation happens at intersections, which means people have to come out of their silos and start working together, and for that they need to know how to collaborate across silos. And, as any HR professional will tell you, we have plenty trouble collaborating even within our silos, forget about across silos.

Speaker 1:

What are you talking about? Never have that issue.

Speaker 2:

So, after a lot of listening to a lot of leaders and conferences and I do a lot of keynote speaking across the world and I would roll my eyes internally when they would say we are one team, one company I'm like, no, you're not, so stop pretending to be one. You just work in your silos. You don't know what it means to be one team, one company. Then I was like OK, you know what? Maybe it's time to write a book about how we can jumpstart this whole thing. Because one thing I can tell you, kyle, I'm an extremely impatient kind of woman. I need everything to be done day before yesterday. So I said let's write a book. Let's short circuit the learning curve. Go read the book. And the plan is actually to get the methodology embedded in different organizations so people can run this for themselves. It may not be complicated. It's a simple, impactful and highly practical read. But it was selfish because I had had enough of watching people stumble over each other trying to figure this out. So I said let's write a book about it.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Thank you for the honesty. No, we are not one team. We're a group of people with like conflicting agendas and everybody's got this tug of war and everybody's got this different perspective right. And I think that's one of the things that the longer I've been in HR, the more apparent that has become. And those silos are absolutely real and I think I think a lot of times HR can be at fault in some cases of perpetuating those silos, at least within our own sphere. And you know, anytime I think about somebody saying well, this is not an HR best practice. For me that's like a big red flag, like, oh, that's a silo You've put up a wall. And now everybody has to like agree with you that this is a best practice.

Speaker 2:

and side note, not everybody's going to I don't think HR ever said that they are one team, one family. It's not like one team, one organization. They like to say we have one family. What it is is often a dysfunctional family. That's the one team I love, you know.

Speaker 1:

I love that, and there's been a little bit of a backlash, like in the HR community on this, on the term family as it relates to organizations and you know it's not necessarily a positive connotation, right? So, yeah, there's all types of families. A lot of them are dysfunctional, right? So before we use that word, maybe we should think about how we're using it, right?

Speaker 2:

I completely agree. I mean metaphors of parenting and family. And no, it's not. You know, don't pretend to be something that you are not the either. The only two ways I can accept it being a family is if either you do acknowledge that there are there's a lot of dysfunctionality, or you're willing to be the third cousin twice removed from me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we'll see. We'll see at the family reunion twice, you know, twice a year maybe that, that much pretension I can do.

Speaker 1:

No, I love it it's. It is funny because I remember early, early in my career, when I first started, I kid you not, my mentor was literally like, hr is like daycare, and that was the context that that, like, I was trained in. And it's part of the reason that I'm rebelling right now and that we've got this community behind us that have said you know, this is not the right way to do this it's. You know, belittling other people and other departments does not foster collaborative spirit, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I have to agree. I mean one of the things that there is an assumption for, so I'll not name this organization, but consulting company. I mean the senior partners, really toxic people go make a mess, then ask HR to come clean it up. And I remember I got invited to one such conversation and I said I'm not going to clean it up. You created the mess, you clean it up. I can tell you how you might want to do it, but don't put me in the front when you're the one who kind of went and messed it up. They looked at me like is she really from HR? And I'm like, yes, I am from HR and I'm going to hold your feet to the fire because you created the mess, you clean it up. I think in daycare they still make the kids clean up after themselves. So you know, even if I was that metaphor, you got, you got. I think you know what I really think.

Speaker 2:

What HR does not do enough off right is pushback. It's just pushback, say you know. Well, in any case, I don't believe HR is a department. For me, hr is a mindset. Either you have it or you don't.

Speaker 2:

And oftentimes when I'm talking to my corporate leaders, I will ask who's from HR and, like one poor soul at the back of the room who's trying to run the training, will raise their hand. And that's when I tell them HR is not a department, it's a mindset. Either you get the whole conversation of you know, growing, nurturing, getting the best value from your people, or you don't. So how many of you are in HR? And then 50 people raise their hand and the HR person looks so, so pleased with me. He's like, oh, we recruited into the HR. I said, absolutely, it's not a department, it's a mindset. So you know, I'm here to partner with you and share with you, you know, insights that you may not have. But I don't want you to think that I have some sort of a monopoly on how it should be done. We'll co-create. That's the best I can do.

Speaker 1:

I love that and I think you know I reflect on maybe the leaders that I really admire or leaders that I've worked with my current leader and you know they get that right, like it's all HR right. Leadership is HR. It's about understanding these principles, it's about supporting your people. It's about kind of having that evolved mindset as it relates to helping people be successful. So, as you were doing this book, you know, I know that writing a book takes a lot of research and time and sometimes heartburn, and so I'm curious what is an insight that surprised you as you were writing this book and working through some of the research?

Speaker 2:

How I ever surprised by how little we truly understand what collaboration takes. Most people assume that you draw a Line around 10 people, or you find people with similar specialization and you throw them in a circle and you're good to go for collaboration. That's not the case. Or you, you know you, you set objective and goals and Processes and technology and collaboration takes place. It doesn't. It truly requires a deeper conversation I mean that's why the book is called deep collaboration as to what part of ourselves Do we need to give up to create a third identity which is beyond you and me, that allows the true co-created potential of collaboration to come forth, and that requires some very difficult conversations. That requires people to step out of their e-girls. That requires people to understand what it means to be taking a systems perspective of collaboration, etc.

Speaker 2:

It's it's a whole bunch of Mental models and skill sets that are missing in organizations, because we have not attempted too much of the cross-silo collaboration before. But without this it's not going to happen. And so that awareness like I, literally, when I would talk about deep collaboration principles and you know the five Conversations you have to have before you start doing this and I see people's like Live bulb moments going on and like so you've never thought about this, have you? And I just? Maybe I made the mistake of thinking that the most senior they are in the organization that they get it. Actually, they don't. They really don't, because so many times people who get promoted to these senior roles have been promoted there because they're either very good in the sales organization or they're very good at you know that they're the rain makers of the organization, but that doesn't mean they get the collaboration conversation, and that can be a big gap at times.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's fascinating that you say that, because I Can say I can't. I couldn't even tell you how many times I've had the conversation about Somebody who's maybe struggling in a new leadership role or has been promoted and they were amazing and their last job and but they are really struggling in their new job and and I think I I'm curious to get your perspective on the difference in skill set that's required when you, when you elevate through an organization and and need to foster Collaboration on a on a deeper level. How, how can our, our leaders or ourselves, and in many cases, help focus on collaboration at a deeper level, as opposed to some of the maybe Assumed collaboration that that we hope is happening?

Speaker 2:

Oh my god, that's such such a brilliant question and there are so many layers to this. But I think the big transition has to be in terms of their identity From an individual contributor, which is I, me and myself, to maybe a functional leader, which is about you and me, to being an enterprise leader, which is about us. It's an identity shift. Are you able to occupy those Deferring positions? And as an enterprise leader, you don't have the luxury to be favoring one part of your. It's like like with child. Is your favorite child Kind of a conversation? Or which of your eyes do you love more, the left eye or the right? I, I'm sorry, you need both eyes if you want to have the accurate vision, and that requires you to Think in terms of the strategic trade-offs you have to make. It requires you to not be fixated upon. You know where is the credit going for doing the right things. The horizon of your thinking needs to become much longer than the here and now. The higher you go in the organization, the conversations around Legacy should be much more common than we find that they are today, and so I think the one shift is is the is the identity shift and recognizing and honoring the interdependencies within the organization and the interdependencies of the organization with its outside environment.

Speaker 2:

A lot of people never make that shift because they they are so fixated on Did we meet our sales target? You know what says what. What are the numbers of? You know Widgets we produced, or whatever is the metric that they're after, because that's what they grew up with, right as though that is like the only.

Speaker 2:

So I talk about this in the book that Undercost, on time and good quality, that's been the traditional metric of productivity in organizations. I call that the, the iron iron triangle metrics, very hard metrics, industrial age metrics. But when we start measuring collaboration, it's not just about the end result. It's also about the learning that is happening on the team, the affinity that we have for each other, the opportunities we are creating for the future. That's a whole new, different set of metrics. So are you able to transition into those metrics as you grow higher, both in terms of of your own growth and that of other people? So the umbrella term I would use is are you able to make that shift in identity from, I mean myself to what about you and me, to what about us as a collective?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love that and I think the concept of going from, like the independence to interdependence is such a profound mindset shift and a lot of times I mean to be perfectly honest I think it's easy for us to talk about it, but it's really hard for us to like have practical, pragmatic ways to actually like step through. Okay, how do I go from being too selfish and self-centered and worried about, like, yeah, my own success into the true societal and organizational success as a team? And I know that you've got some practical ways to actually walk into that deep collaboration and that interdependence. So, for those of us that kind of have recognized this as an issue, see this in our organization and know, hey, okay, we've got to do something. Where do we start? What steps do we need to start to take to help move our organizations or ourselves in that direction?

Speaker 2:

I think you'll read the book, and I'm not saying this because I wrote it.

Speaker 1:

Look, that's okay. That's part of the reason why we're talking.

Speaker 2:

The reason why I'm saying read the book is because I have tried to tackle this along five different dimensions and you need to have a very authentic and open conversation around those five dimensions. For example, there are questions in there around, so one of the conversations is called the deep friction conversation, and having an open conversation about what? Is it about our style of working or our approach to problem solving or our metrics that you think will make it difficult for your team to collaborate with us? When you need to have the ability to have that open conversation and call it for what it is Right.

Speaker 2:

And once you step into, I have actually had people, when they have run through the deep collaboration conversations, stand in front of an entire senior leadership team and own the shadow aspect of their leadership style and make statements saying things like if you ever find me becoming overly defensive, please call it out and help me through the process. That takes real courage to be able to own what are your shadow behaviors in front of an entire team. But it's when we step into that element of vulnerability and trust that interdependence becomes that much easier, because otherwise you're going to be constantly guarding your turf because you're not sure if the other person has your back or not. And that's why I say, before you get into the whole, let's do cross style of collaboration, let's do innovation at intersections. There are some fundamental conversations that have to happen, and very openly at that, but I feel that I can count on you as you can count on me.

Speaker 1:

That sounds scary I'm half kidding, but you know, I think this is like.

Speaker 1:

This is one of those areas where we need to be honest with ourselves, you know, not just in HR but as people, right, like truly opening up and truly being vulnerable, appropriately vulnerable, in a way that builds trust, is really freaking hard right and scary.

Speaker 1:

And it's honestly like, from my standpoint, it's the antithesis of what I've been trained to do as an HR professional, right, it was like that the individualism and the like, the frustration, the shadow, the dark side of how you're feeling and how you act. You're supposed to just mask it, you're supposed to walk away from it, put on a happy face, pretend like everything's going, going fine, even though everything's on fire around you, right, and I think my opinion is that's why we're seeing so much burnout, so many challenges in mental health, there's so much loneliness in human resources. I can't tell you how many people I talk to that feel like they are truly on a silo within their organization and just in general. So, for those of us that are struggling with this and understand it logically, but are struggling to take those actions, what advice can you give us for us to really confront this and have the courage to allow that true, deep collaboration to exist.

Speaker 2:

You know, vulnerability is not owed to anybody. Wanderability has got to be earned. I don't owe you my vulnerability. And for us to step into a space of vulnerability, I always suggest starting small and testing the waters, because some people will never be able to honor your vulnerability and those are the people who don't deserve your vulnerability to begin with. So there is a little bit of testing of the waters, but I thought this is the rebel human resources podcast.

Speaker 2:

We should have no problem rebelling against whatever is our socialization. The socialization happened in a world that needs to come to an end. We are literally dragging the caracass around of the old world and it's really time to put it down. I mean the dedication of my book. When you open the book, the first thing it says it's, it's and I'm going to open it and read it. It says dedicated to my son and his generation.

Speaker 2:

May you inherit workplace cultures that honor your potential and humanity at a deeper level. I mean, what are we doing if you're not kind of creating that workplace where we are able to leave some of these industrial age practices behind? And I agree, I am not in denial over here, kyle, I'm 100% in agreement with you. This is scary because we're not seeing role modeling of this sort. I, for one, I'm going through a period of disenchantment with the way I'm seeing the layoffs that have been happening around the world. You know people showing up at Google and finding out that they've been laid off because they can't tap and get inside the building. And then what are we talking about over here?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So, but somewhere we have got to make a start and that's why the reason why I focus on conversation is because conversations are the building blocks of all change, the quality of our conversation we determine the quality of our culture and the quality of our practices. And it needs a lot of skilled facilitation because sometimes it can become like a who blinks. First thing, will you open up? Will I open up? Because it requires a lot of role modeling from senior people and there's a certain level of maturity to be able to enter this. That's why it's called deep collaboration versus, you know, a surface level or superficial or base level collaboration, because we're going much deeper and it's not everybody's cup of tea, for sure.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I think this is the ultimate rebellion for those of us that are in in the, you know, organizational world, or the corporate world, or or maybe helping helping other organizations as consultants. Like this is where the change happens. Right, the power of, of the connections and conversations that occur and the depth of those will will truly determine your success or failure in in driving organizational change.

Speaker 1:

Or or, or, you know, getting approval for a Budget for some amazing program that's gonna help your employees, or making sure that you know you don't make a really awful and stupid layoff decision where let's just shut off everybody's badge and then they have to come talk to us and then we'll give them a pink slip, right, like, like, yeah, that's this is like. It's these sorts of things where you can look at these, at these scenarios, and say, okay, somebody missed something Right, and and what? What was missed most likely was that crucial Deep conversation about, hey, wait a minute, have we thought about this or what about that? Or Preferably, you know we're already in the room and already have that level of trust so that we don't even have to have that conversation, because people know there's no way that that we're gonna have. Kyle, give us a thumbs up on doing this right.

Speaker 2:

I mean, one of the things I wonder about is why, on one hand so you said you can't have a podcast right now in HR without talking about AI.

Speaker 1:

Yeah right, it seems that way right.

Speaker 2:

And so why am I not seeing any conversations around how we can use AI and predictive modeling to not end up with the kind of layoff cycles we end up with? This is not our first rodeo. We have seen this in the past. There has been the dot-com bus, that has been the financial markets meltdown. We have seen SARS. We are now see Kobe like I'll be never planning on very. I worked the plan.

Speaker 1:

Why are you sure short memories?

Speaker 2:

What? Why are we not having a conversation of how AI can help avoid these? You know recruit by the bucket and you know layoff by the bathtub kind of trends that we see every time. What is the sweet spot where we need to look at? Okay, x number of people need to be on on Part-time employment, x number of people need to be, you know, the full-time people, and why number of people need to be some other Contractual relationship or what have you like. Some thought needs to be given to how we don't keep ending up in these same cycles Over and over again, and how are we going to leverage, you know, advanced analytical capabilities to do that.

Speaker 1:

I've seen it in other fields.

Speaker 2:

I'm seeing it in other fields. Manufacturing and supply chain are are creating digital twins to see how all garrisons were run. Are you telling me we can't do that in HR? I Think yeah, I.

Speaker 1:

I think that's a great car, and you know my context on AI. You know, from my standpoint, this is a tool we should be. We should be learning everything we can about. We should completely understand the capabilities and the areas where there's not capability to help and Use it. Use it to help us be more effective. But what? What has happened? And this has happened in in my circle More often than not. I don't get people saying, hey, how can we use AI to help us? What I get people saying is, hey, we need a policy to protect us from AI right to to totally, totally different Approaches. And you know, my argument would be that if you're, if you go to a point of Fear and protectionism as it relates to some new and emerging technology, you're asking questions. Right, you're coming at it from the wrong context, we still need to be thoughtful, but but it's a tool, let's use it right.

Speaker 1:

Hey we talked about AI. We got there. We made it there. I didn't know that we would get there with with this topic, but but we did it. Thank you, so much to be appreciated.

Speaker 2:

Great.

Speaker 1:

Well, we are. We. Here's the problem with this podcast and I, so I think I'm just gonna start doing like three hour Podcasts, because we always like it warmed up like 20, 25 minutes. Every everybody gets excited and then it's like, okay, now it's time to shift gears. So hopefully, for everybody that's listening this, this has been enough of Maybe a little bit of a teaser of insight into what you will find in the book. The book, again, is deep collaboration five crucial conversations to accelerate team performance across silos. It is available in March of 2024, where books are sold, and we'll have a link in the show notes. With that being said, we're gonna shift gears. We're gonna go into the rebel HR flash round. Are you ready?

Speaker 2:

Ready.

Speaker 1:

All right, here we go. Question number one when does HR need to rebel?

Speaker 2:

Every place at every moment. That's a simple answer. I.

Speaker 1:

Love it. I love it. One word answer everywhere. That's right. We're on the same, we are the same level. So that might be one of my favorite responses to that question, the. The other favorite response May be tied responses. Hr needs to rebel by not listening to anybody else and just do whatever the heck you want. So I think similar veins All right. Question number two who should we be listening to?

Speaker 2:

Dan and chip eat. I love the way they rise and they think about change. Brenna Brown because she is one of the deepest researchers on vulnerability and we need to understand how to do vulnerability with Intentionality and respecting other people's boundaries and our own boundaries. And Kim Scott for radical candor, because it's time for some radical conversations.

Speaker 1:

I love it and, yeah, I couldn't agree more. There's some, some amazing content there. If, yeah, if, if our listeners have not Gotten gotten knee deep in those authors or those researchers, then you know, get at it, because it's it's, it's gonna be helpful. Final question how could our listeners reach out and connect with you?

Speaker 2:

well, you can go to leaders Upgraded comm, which is my website, because who doesn't love an upgrade, whether it is hotels or airlines or Life and career? So go to leaders upgraded comm and forward slash deep. And that's where it's all about the book and there's some resources you can get there. But what will work best is if you reach out on LinkedIn and say hey, I heard you're Carl's podcast, yes, we're friends already.

Speaker 1:

Perfect, perfect, yeah, and again, we'll have all that information in the show notes. Open up the podcast player. Click in, check it out. Pick up the book. Just amazing content. Really appreciate you spending your evening with us and and Sharing some of this knowledge with our our listeners. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, carl, keep rebelling.

Speaker 1:

All right, rebel on, here we go. All right, that does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big Thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, twitter at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources dot com. Abuse and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast or those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast.

Speaker 2:

Maybe,

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Collaboration and the Role of Vulnerability
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