How To Collaborate At Work
Learning how to collaborate at work is critical to career success. Even in a virtual work environment, working well with others is an important skill employers are looking for. According to Go Remotely, employees 50% more time engaged in collaborative work.
Collaborating at work can help you in several ways:
- Meet people in different departments
- Learn other skills
- Increase creativity
To gain the benefits of collaboration, you must know how to collaborate.
Below we outline three strategies to help you successfully collaborate at work.
1. Clear Communication
When embarking upon a workplace collaboration, the most important thing you can do is make sure you are clearly communicating. Clear communication will help ensure everyone is always in the loop and on the same page.
Consider the following:
- Communication Channel – Choosing a communication channel is critical for the success of the collaboration. You want to have a place where all your information can be accessed. For example, you can create a slack thread where all of the communication about the project can be stored. You will also want to create a space for all necessary documents. For example, you could use a dropbox folder, or a Google Drive folder. Make sure everyone on your team has access to the folders.
- Meetings – Depending on your situation, you may collaborate with colleagues in different time zones or departments. Because of this, you will want to clarify the time and place for each meeting. For example, if your team members are in different time zones, you will want to consider their time before deciding on a meeting. You will also want to ensure everyone knows how to access the meeting. This means sending out calendar invites with links to the virtual meeting.
- Be Timely – Part of clearly communicating is making sure you disseminate information in a timely manner. For example, let’s say your team is tasked with putting on a conference. Your job is to coordinate the speakers. Once you solidify the speaker, and get all of the assets, you will need to send this information to the marketing team. In this scenario, the marketing team can’t do their job unless you send them the information. Most likely, the marketing team needs to send their collateral to another department. Being timely with your communication is of the utmost importance for the project to move forward.
- Be Transparent – You need to be transparent in your communication, especially when collaborating at work. This is because your colleagues count on you to be forthcoming with any issues or information necessary to the project. For example, let’s say you just found out there is an issue with production for your project. Your team needs to know this information. If you aren’t transparent with them, the problem may not get resolved and could negatively impact the project. Transparency in communication will build your credibility amongst your team.
As you collaborate, be sure you are clearly communicating with your colleagues. The more informed everyone is, the more successful your project will be.
2. The Goal + Purpose
Collaborations are only successful if everyone understands the goal, and has a purpose. This means there is a clear vision for the result, and each team member has a specific role to play.
There are several ways to ensure your collaborations are successful.
- Decide On Your Goal – Your goal is the reason you are collaborating. If you don’t have a strong sense of what you are working towards, your collaboration won’t be productive. You will want to have a goal in mind before you begin. For example, if your company is putting on a large conference, your goal may be to have three speakers with 2500 attendees. Or, you could be tasked with streamlining production for a product. In this case, your goal could be to develop three solutions for streamlining the production. Whatever your goal is, make sure everyone understands it to know why they are collaborating.
- Role – Every person on the team should have a specific function. If people don’t have a specific role, two things can happen. One, people will overlap duties. And two, some people may not do anything. You want to avoid both of these scenarios. To make sure everyone has a purpose, you will want to make a list of each team member. Write down your expectations for them in this collaboration and share it with them. If you are not leading the collaboration, you will want to clarify your role with the leader before it starts.
Having a specific goal and purpose will help your collaboration be successful.
When collaborating, you need to show respect to the other people on your team. If you are leading a collaboration, you will want to foster respect within the team. When everyone feels respected, creativity and ideas can be generated without fear. Respect will also increase productivity, and your collaboration will be more likely to succeed.
There are several ways to showcase respect when collaborating.
- Open-Minded Communication – Collaboration means you will be sharing many thoughts and ideas on how to reach your goal. To maintain a culture of respect, you will want to have open-minded communication. This means being open to any and all ideas. For example, one way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to share their ideas is to create a space for ideas to be shared. You can dedicate time before a meeting for idea-generating. Or you can have a sub-thread in slack where people can share ideas at any time. The more people feel free to share their ideas, the more respected everyone will feel.
- Actively Listen – Actively listening is one way to show others you respect them and their ideas. Active listening requires you to set aside what you are doing and fully pay attention to what the other person is saying. There are several ways to show you are actively listening. For example, nodding your head, maintaining good eye contact, and avoiding distractions are ways you can show you are actively listening. If you are on a Zoom call, you can keep your video on, avoid scrolling the internet, and react in the comments to show you are actively listening. When people feel their ideas are valued, they are more open to collaboration.
- Take Responsibility – One way to show your team respect, is to take responsibility for your actions. This means, if you say you are going to do something, you do it. It can also mean being honest about a mistake you made. For example, let’s say you told the team you would send them the marketing promos before the launch deadline on Friday. However, the promos got delayed. You need to communicate this to your team and tell them you won’t make the deadline. Or let’s say you have the promos, but you forgot to send them. Tell the truth to your team. Don’t cast blame on someone else. Casting blame will hurt your credibility.
Respect is built when there is an open dialogue free from judgment. The more respected your team members feel, the more productive your team will be.
Being able to collaborate effectively is key to career success. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate during a workplace collaboration. Collaboration can lead to successful projects and exciting innovation when everyone has a clear vision and knows their role.
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