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Key Takeaways: The Value and Challenges of Collegiality in Practice

The ability to work optimally with colleagues is considered to be a valuable determinant of success, but collegiality is a challenge to gauge and assess. Steven Burr, Tracey Collett and YL Leung published a paper at the University of Plymouth, investigating ways to be more collegial as well as possible benefits and drawbacks. They put special focus on clinical practice – a highly demanding and professionalized field that allows others to adopt some of their learnings. Here are the key takeaways:
Written on 02/21/24

Collegiality, defined as the relationship between individuals working towards a common purpose, emphasizes trust, independent thinking, and sharing among co-workers. It is distinct from congeniality and collaboration but involves building rapport and learning from each other. Benefits of collegiality include improved staff morale and organizational efficiency, while fostering a culture of trust and shared learning. However, challenges such as potential biases, resistance to change and professional dilemmas exist. The article provides practical suggestions for improving collegiality, including open communication, professional intimacy, conflict resolution training, and leadership that inspires and values staff contributions.

Practicable suggestions to improve collegiality are:

  1. Open Communication and Professional Intimacy: Foster an environment where staff can openly communicate, celebrate accomplishments, and collaborate on projects. Professional intimacy, nurtured through shared interests and interactions, builds trust and encourages honest sharing of strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Conflict Resolution Training: Provide training in conflict resolution to help staff separate emotions from conflicts, mediate compromises and accept decisions without personalizing disagreements. This enables constructive resolution of conflicts, promoting a collegial atmosphere.
  3. Leadership that Inspires: Leaders should prioritize building relationships with staff and inspiring positive attitudes. Emphasizing a shared purpose and empowering staff at all levels fosters a collegial culture and enhances performance and satisfaction.
  4. Inclusive Practices: Involve staff in decision-making processes, selection, and recruitment to maximize team fit and demonstrate value for their opinions. Encouraging decentralization of tasks, rotating roles and cooperative projects promotes inclusivity and teamwork.
  5. Formal Evaluation and Recognition: Set collegiality as a formal goal in performance appraisals, with appropriate rewards and celebrations of success. This ensures staff are motivated and recognized for their contributions to fostering a collegial environment.

In summary, improving collegiality requires a combination of open communication, conflict resolution skills, inclusive practices, inspirational leadership, and formal recognition. By prioritizing trust, respect, and shared learning, organizations can enhance staff satisfaction, and overall organizational effectiveness.

You can access the full research paper in Plymouth Electronic Archive and Research Library.