“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” —George Bernard Shaw
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Collaboration brings us together to work towards a shared objective. If we can collaborate effectively we increase our chances for success. Collaborating with others offers us the opportunity to be part of something larger than ourselves.
We can achieve more together than the sum of what we can achieve individually. Successful collaboration creates win-win situations where all parties benefit. People are most productive and satisfied at work when they feel supported, rewarded, and aligned with the work they are doing. Effective collaboration puts the right people in right roles and provides them with the voice, support, and encouragement needed to be successful. Here are a few factors impact your odds of collaborating successfully.
The culture of your organization will either foster or destroy collaboration. The culture should promote the attitude that there is always something new to be discovered. You never know where the next great idea will come from. A healthy culture encourages employees to ask questions. It challenges employees to wonder what might be possible if we work together. Collaboration helps us to feel energized and connected as we work in a team environment. Develop a culture that engages employees to participate in collaboration without competing with each other. Encourage the development of the authentic connections between colleagues that builds a sense of community. Promote a culture that encourages and rewards collaboration and advances a shared vision to guide collaborative efforts.
Successful collaboration is dependent on building strong, authentic relationships. These relationships allow us to influence and inspire others. Get to know colleagues on a personal basis. Always treat each other with respect. Use your relationships to develop a spirit of cooperation and offer encouragement and support.
Communication connects us with others and is a key factor in effective collaboration. Communication should always be respectful. In a collaborative environment people should be given a voice to express themselves in a constructive manner. Encourage others to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Clearly communicate shared goals and objectives. Resolve disagreements quickly and in a respectful manner. And, remember to express appreciation for the contributions of team members.
Trust is an important component of any successful collaboration. The collaborative environment must reduce the fear of judgment that hinders participation and productivity. Develop an atmosphere that encourages others to share ideas in a safe and respectful environment. Show compassion for colleagues. Set an example of how to treat others and how to work together effectively. Treat colleagues as equals. Develop a code of conduct so that situations are handled consistently and fair.
To collaborate effectively the team should focus on cooperation and developing connections between members. Every participant should be encouraged to bring the best of themselves to the table. To be successful, teams should focus their energy on outcomes not problems. Create a Collaborative environment with shared objectives that focus on what’s best for the organization as a whole.
You must build collaboration into the culture of your organization. The culture should empower individuals to work together to accomplish more than would be possible if they were working alone. A positive, collaborative environment encourages team members to share opinions and ideas, promotes cooperation, and develops strategic partnerships.
When we work together we can accomplish more that we ever could working individually. When we join forces we all win. Now, everyone, roll up your sleeves and let’s collaborate.
© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli