A common-sense definition of the word “collaboration” would likely be “working with others to complete projects more efficiently and effectively.” However, common definitions from employers seem to involve frequent chaotic meetings and workplace setups—which are anything but efficient or effective.
In fact, what normally ends up happening is that the strongest employees are still forced to do most of the work, but it actually takes them longer to do a worse job because of this mandatory “collaboration.” Yet, finally, a recent study in Applied Psychology has confirmed what employees everywhere have already observed—and, hopefully, what employers, managers, or supervisors will at long last come to realize.
The research indicates that while normal employees could improve themselves while working closely with top employees, being forced to collaborate compels average workers to try to “out due” those above them, so they are far less likely to take good advice, to implement it, or, quite frankly, to even consider it. What’s more, the study claims, “Cooperative contexts proved socially disadvantageous for high performers”: rumours were spread about them, sabotage was planned against them, and there were even attempts to outright steal their work!
This is bad news for top employees, but it might be even worse news for employers. A separate column argues, “The No. 1 reason high performers leave organizations in which they are otherwise happy is because of the tolerance of mediocrity”: hard workers are usually OK with doing more—and better quality—work than those around them, but they are not OK with simultaneously having to motivate mediocre workers who frequently retaliate against them.
Instead, quality employees are most effective when working alone, or when working as the leader of a group as opposed to as an “equal” in a group. And, really, this makes perfect common sense. If it didn’t, there would be no need for presidents, CEOs, managers, or, perhaps most significantly—there would be no need for bosses at all.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here: https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/collaboration-creates-mediocrity-not-excellence-according-to-science.html?cid=sf01002&sr_share=facebook.