Most everyone I talk with wants greater success in some (or many) parts of their life. And however independent you may think you are, no one can achieve as much when they are working alone as they can with the collaborative help of others . . . if that collaboration is truly helpful.
You hopefully have experienced times where a group was really clicking; it’s amazing the amount of progress that can be made. However, you’ve likely also experienced times when working together seemed hard and even counter-productive to getting any results.
Here are seven ways to improve collaboration and to make the work of a group more successful in any situation:
- Have a common purpose. Too often we get the cart before the horse. We have a group of people assembled to do some work and since we are all busy we dive right into the task, often without a clear sense for why the work is being done or what the perfect end result would be. Without a clear and common purpose – the reason for being together that everyone shares – collaboration will never reach anywhere near the level that is possible.
- Develop concrete goals. The common purpose unites the group, and the goals provide focus and energy. If you want the maximum results from any group, make sure you have concrete goals.
- Communicate freely. Collaboration requires communication. Effective collaboration requires open and honest communication about ideas, experiences and opinions. In a group where hierarchy is present, realize that the hierarchy can be a barrier to the free flow of communication, and do what you can to counterbalance it.
- Combine the best of each person. Each person brings great strengths in terms of perspective, experience, ideas, skills and much more. Collaboration (and results) will be enhanced when the strengths of each team member are recognized, valued and used.
- Create open-mindedly. Collaboration is an act of creation. You bring people together to find synergy – the sum being greater than the contribution of each individual. Collaboration will be enhanced when people feel comfortable about sharing their ideas, and worry less about whose idea gets implemented. Not coincidentally, as you master the first four points, this step gets easier.
- Circulate accountability. Someone may be the team leader, and that is fine. But greater collaboration will come when everyone feels responsible; when anyone is comfortable and “allowed” to take a leadership role or take the lead in making something happen. The most collaborative groups have a leader, but are filled with people ready to do what it takes to achieve results.
- Compete externally. It is hard to collaborate when you feel competition within the group. Competition for power, position, ideas and more all get in the way of collaborative success. With a clear purpose and goals, people can be clear on what they are trying to accomplish and how to do that in service of the team’s success, not their personal (or departmental) success.
Consider these seven items like a checklist. While all are required for the best collaboration, look for the one that a group you are on is doing well (and support that at even greater levels), and recognize one that the group could improve on (and do what you can to help make that happen).
These “Seven C’s” will help you navigate the waters of working with others. The group might be a true working team, or it might be a group gathered for a one-time event to solve a problem or complete a task. In any case the more of these C’s that are working for you, the more enjoyable and successful working with others will be.
Potential Pointer: Being able to be collaborative and to create greater collaboration with a group are two of the most valuable skills you can possess. These Seven C’s will help you create better ideas and greater results, and have more fun doing it!