Power of collaboration
A few years ago, I delivered a training session to a group of middle-aged managers on how to interview young job candidates. At the end of the session, I wanted to show the audience what typical candidates look like so I arranged to have the managers actually meet young people fresh out of college.
As the recent college graduates shared their interview preparation stories, many of the managers came across a surprising moment of truth. Most of these graduates knew well in advance exactly what would happen during their job interviews and which questions would be asked. How? First, they gained basic information about the company through its website. Afterwards, they went to online communities where members openly shared detailed information on various companies they had applied jobs for and questions they were asked during the interviews, as well as their own pre- and post- interview feedback. In fact, some online communities are especially famous for a wide network of former job seekers who are willing to share their experiences along with a database of resources accumulated over many years.
While the managers were impressed by the job candidates’ level of preparation, they could not help but wonder why people would openly share such information. After all, some of the other job seekers could potentially be competitors vying for the same open position.
But the young employees reasoned that they learned a lot about their future employers through information provided by these online contributors. They built a rich database for everyone, and members who have found employment by using these resources were also compelled to add on their two cents to the existing information. This behavior appears to stem from an appreciation for open collaboration.
Professionals who have long been in the workforce regard the younger generation as weak fledglings lacking in what it takes to become real business people in the big business world. Some older, more experienced managers even have biased beliefs that new kids may have strong computer skills, but they seriously lack tenacity and ambition. Though employees from younger generations may not have some of qualities that are required in the traditional business world, they are certainly equipped with new weapons required in the modern environment. These employees are both IT savvy and collaborative.
Think of social networking service (SNS). It allows people to freely interweave through time and space. Mankind has developed various communication tools such as the newspaper, radio and TV in the past, but none can compete with SNS. For the first time, meaningful communication is possible among a multitude of people regardless of where they are because SNS has the power to reach out to them and give life to otherwise nonexisting conversations. Younger generations raised in this digital environment find it easier to type than write, and they are willing to tap into the vast resources available on the internet while cultivating more collaborative minds. For this generation, SNS is a ground-breaking communication revolution in human history.
Managers must learn to understand where these younger minds come from and the values they embrace in order to establish a win-win relationship. As the world becomes more interconnected, having a collaborative mindset and promoting collaborations will prove to be more beneficial than competitions, even in business.
I see the value in collaborations and establishing beneficial environments for relationships to form. Humankind will prosper more than ever before if we collaborate. Competition out of selfishness has been known to be a part of human nature. But we need to know that we have been able to establish ourselves higher than any other animal in the animal kingdom because our ancestors took a giant collaborative step to support one advancing generation after another. By nature, collaboration does not come easily, but putting in long hours of conscious effort will lead to fruitful results.
Kim Yong-seong is a professor at the Institute of Global Management (IGM).