You won’t always get along with the people that you work with—but that doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate successfully. In fact, you may get along quite well and still find that you need some tips on how to best combine your expertise towards a common work goal. Great collaborations take effort, in the same way that a fulfilling marriage takes effort.
The benefits of collaboration are worth it, though. They foster new ideas, produce innovative solutions to tough problems, and result in a better morale of the team when they are done well. They bring together people of various backgrounds with different skills and experiences in order to move the business forward. It’s important to lay the groundwork for effective collaborations, however. Otherwise, you end up with poorly done projects or frustrated team members who are burnt out from picking up the slack from their peers.
Here are a few tips for building a solid collaboration foundation.
Get full clarity.
You need to make sure everyone is on the same page. Make sure your long-term and short-term goals are clear, and be sure that the team knows how the project is aligned with the organization’s higher-level strategy to give a sense of purpose. Communicate the plan of action and don’t leave out any important details.
Who is doing what by when? Make sure the responsibilities of each person are understood. There should be accountability and set deadlines so that the team knows they can depend on each other. Let people know where to go for support or resources.
There are so many tools accessible to businesses (and individuals) these days. Take advantage of them! Be sure there is a dedicated space for all the communication and information sharing for the project. Platforms like Trello, Slack, or Evernote (or a whole host of other options) can be super helpful. And if that isn’t your team’s speed, even a simple shared Google doc could work.
Open the doors of communication.
Listen. Really, truly listen. Be transparent and open about all things related to your project. Communicate to your team about where you are on something—especially if they are directly dependent on you in order to make their own contributions. If something isn’t working with a team member, be sure to address the issue right away instead of letting it bubble into something more problematic.
Make your meetings efficient.
Don’t have meetings unless you need to. Set clear agendas and stick to them. Make sure everyone shows up prepared for meetings, and identify what the priorities are upfront. Keep personal talk to a minimum, if it’s even allowed at all in this setting.
Know your collaborative partners.
It’s hard to work together effectively if you know nothing about each other. Get to know team members’ expertise, experience, strengths, and weaknesses. This way, you can all decide how you can best work together and have an understanding of what everyone is bringing to the table. You can also be sure that you have all the right people you need for the project and that everyone is able to contribute what they are best at.
Create a collaborative environment.
Make it the norm in your organization to be working together towards a common goal. Lead by example and build positive experiences around collaboration. Create trust within your team and solid systems that facilitate the collaborations easily. It’s not about being best friends with everyone. It’s simply about knowing how to bring skills together in an effective way to get things done (and do them well).
“There is only one way… to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.” – Dale Carnegie