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November 15, 2018

Col-Aberration:  When Working with Others is a Struggle

By Jeanine Izzo

Collaboration1 – The action of working with someone [others] to produce or create something.

Aberration2 – A departure from what is normal, usual or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

Col-Aberration3 – Working with others in ways that disrupt progress.

Working with others is a dynamic process that at times can feel like you have come face to face with a komodo dragon and there is no way to get out fully in tact.  Yikes!  Whereas that may be more than a little dramatic, collaboration does comes with some degree of challenge.  The challenges can be made to be productive or unproductive.  When people and efforts come together in a productive way, the wins are exceptionally rewarding.  On the other hand, when the struggles are unproductive, the experience can be frustrating, exhausting, and expensive.   The following list offers a number of conditions and behaviors that get in the way of collaboration and fuel col-aberration instead.

  1. No common vision/goal/scope to strive toward…and no plan to define success.
  2. Being in victim mode waiting for ‘the powers that be’ to provide answers without your questions.
  3. Unclear behavioral expectations.
  4. Skipping over training and other team forming activities to go straight to work.
  5. Poor engagement of team members, leader and/or sponsor.
  6. Dismal focus on accountability.
  7. Unskilled facilitation. Inability to draw out information, synchronize inputs, drive to solution.
  8. Lack of diverse thoughts/ideas.
  9. Stifling creative, innovative approaches that may move the bar further than imagined.
  10. Changing the tried and true without sound reasoning.
  11. Limited perspectives or limited perspective taking.
  12. Too many introverts that are uncomfortable sharing in a team format.
  13. Too many extroverts that want/need to hear themselves talk.
  14. Closed minds that are not open to new people, ideas, approaches.
  15. Free minds that can’t land on a course forward.
  16. Desire to listen for information that fits the need instead of what is really happening.
  17. Disregarding body language and tone of voice.
  18. Optimists rule – pessimists drool mentality (need both as long as not disruptive to progress).
  19. Negatively competitive environment which rewards big egos, credit mongers, discussion killers.
  20. Solution handed down as a rule rather than the exception.
  21. Accepting scope changes without knowing or communicating trade-offs.
  22. Automatically resisting change requests without evaluating their value proposition.
  23. Lack of respect/couth.
  24. Problem focus vs. solution focused approach.
  25. No boundaries…or too many boundaries.
  26. Degree of structure or flexibility that does not benefit the effort.
  27. Discomfort with bringing up wacky or ‘obvious’ ideas and tasks.
  28. Unwilling to compromise.
  29. Inability to negotiate.
  30. Differing assumptions.  Everyone is not in same place with same understanding.
  31. No trust or understanding of value each person brings.
  32. Judging inputs as good, bad, stupid, etc.
  33. Too nice – fear of conflict (productive tension is part of progress).
  34. Too defensive – makes everything an argument or resistance point (unproductive conflict).
  35. Making conflict personal.
  36. Failing to carve out time for autonomous thought and action.
  37. Not honoring / utilizing differences.
  38. Not knowing where the effort stands.
  39. Escalating too late.
  40. Losing sight of the business case.
  41. Incorrect reporting to stakeholders.
  42. Failing to look ahead and proactively ask for help (people, advisement, action, money, etc.).
  43. Missing every marker for success (value to customer, schedule, budget, features, quality, margin).
  44. Keep on with the same mediocre/faulty behaviors and processes without improvement.
  45. Zero acknowledgment of progress.

From these complexities of teamwork stem the possibilities for improvement (and the thrill of being part of a collective effort).  Whether you are a team member or a team lead, being able to use critical thinking to customize the approach, develop your skills, and adjust as you go are keys to making the challenge of working with others more successful and rewarding.

Forward moving tips:

  1. Select 1-3 items from above that are present in your team or your behavior.
  2. Determine what you could do to improve in your chosen areas.
  3. Take action to improve.
  4. Notice what changes.
  5. Repeat.

For assistance with helping you and your team improve collaboration…Contact Viage Partners today.


1, 2 – Google Dictionary

3 – Created by Jeanine Izzo / Viage Partners

© Viage Partners 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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