The Art of Collaboration: What You Stand to Gain and How to Never Lose

the_art_of_collaboration

Collaboration in the workplace can be one of the hardest things to accomplish with fellow colleagues. With the myriadof different personalities and work ethics, your colleagues may not seem like the best option for accomplishing goals.

It can be extremely easy to believe that completing all tasks on your own is the best way to ensure your responsibilities are taken care of. On the other hand, completing every task from trivial to extremely important by yourself becomes incredibly draining and may put your work at risk of no longer being impeccable.

The goal of collaboration is to achieve something together that you could not achieve alone; this could be completing a project or presenting a new service or product.  Suffice to say, collaborating with your peers will allow you to achieve something you would not be able to do by yourself. The beauty of collaboration is there are so many unseen benefits. You may have an idea of what a finished product will look like, but through collaboration, you could produce something ten times better than you ever imagined on your own.

There is an art to collaborating with colleagues so let me shed some light on a few surefire ways to never run into trouble through collaboration.

Dictate a clear goal from the beginning. From the start of your collaboration, everyone involved should understand and agree upon what the goal is. A shared vision is extremely important when collaborating with colleagues. It is the first step to making sure everyone is on the same page. In addition, by educating all involved individuals on what the end goal is, you can be assured that everyone is motivated to reach that goal. If someone disagrees on the goal from the very beginning and the group cannot reach a consensus, this is a good warning sign that the collaboration may not be effective. In this case you will need to redefine the participants to ensure success.

Give each member a role. As you develop a plan of action, take the time to write down all the tasks and assign them out. Ask your colleagues who would like to perform each task. This will allow everyone’s role to become clear as individuals move towards certain roles.

Establish communication. Another important step in a successful collaboration is establishing the best way to communicate within the group. With the plethora of communication options out there, it is most advantageous to ascertain which option is best for your group to ensure you reach your goal. Consider scheduling weekly meetings to discuss progress. Perhaps simple email communication is the easiest for a group who is spread across the nation or globe. Finally, make a plan for how you will document issues and how you will solve them as a group, if necessary. A global document may be the best option, or perhaps this is something that is communicated in scheduled meetings or conference calls. Regardless of which communication route you choose, be sure it is agreed upon at the beginning ofthe collaboration to reduce the possibility for confusion in the future.

Monitor performance and provide feedback. Throughout your collaboration, there should be constant monitoring ofeveryone’s performance and providing feedback on the work done. By consistently watching the progress of the group, you will be able to visualize where the collaboration is succeeding and failing. Providing feedback, both positive and constructive, will continue to motivate your collaborative group and will allow you to continually remind them of your common goal.

Strive for consensus. Despite best intentions, conflicts do occasionally arise when collaborating with colleagues. When conflicts arise, plan on working together to reach a solution. Make sure everyone involved in the collaboration is partof the group discussion and decision, whether they are directly involved in the conflict or not. To keep a culture ofconsensus, everyone needs to feel involved even if it is only to see the conflict come to resolution.

If you are able to master these steps, your efforts for collaboration will always find success.