Did you know that individuals who work in collaborative settings at work are more than 50% more effective at completing tasks than those who work independently? There is great research that suggests that working collaboratively and collectively leads to better on-the-job performance rates, according to a Stanford study. In addition, those who collaborated were 64% more likely to stick to their assigned tasks than their solitary peers. That is great evidence for creating a structure for easy collaboration!
Creating a collaborative environment
A collaborative environment brings the best of all skills and efforts to a project. For you, you must first recognize and be confident in your own abilities, skills, and experience. Also, you and all the collaborators must be there for a win-win for everyone on the team. Have a clear and specific agreement on expectations and roles so that everyone can contribute and communicate effectively. Be sure that all parties are open to positive feedback as needed. These are the best practices for collaboration.
Set common work agreements
Start your project with work agreements about communication, roles, and expectations. I recently started a new project in collaboration with three team members. We worked together on different projects and knew each other’s strengths. What we needed first was to set up common work agreements with guidelines for roles, which we allocated by strengths. Then, we mapped out communication and project management for the course of the project. Next, we wanted to set expectations on when we worked, how we communicated, and when we communicated. During those first weeks, we tested our system of a set meeting schedule, email requirements of who to copy when, and documentation hosted on google drive. Each week we have tweaked out system. The initial investment in communication paid off well.
Choose easy to use collaboration tools.
There are so many options for collaboration tools. Most require a little learning to ramp up. Choose collaboration tools that are easy to use. Everyone has a favorite tool, while some people have tools established by their workplace.
Establish routine meetings that fuel momentum
Establish meetings that assist moving the needle forward and steering the project. For many of us, that is a weekly meeting with a specific agenda. That agenda includes updates on the project and new information for momentum. Host your meeting at a time what works well for everyone’s productivity, however gives opportunity for real work to be done throughout the week. Always be sure everyone has the opportunity to provide input.
Share feedback and successes
Give a shout out to those who are doing work that is insightful and above and beyond. There is not enough celebration for what is going well. When correction and redirection is needed, be specific about what is not working. Take time to chat with a team member who needs to share more about the work itself.
Every project has bumps in the road. Working as a team helps you overcome these challenges together and finish up strong. If you are unsure if collaborations works for you, look for a team member who has the qualities you need to finish up a project.
Working collaboratively may look different today than it did before COVID, with people working remotely. However, it is still so helpful for opening our minds to new possibilities, and even for accountability.
One thing I like to do is always end a meeting with a summary of who will be doing what by our next meeting. Get this recorded in the meeting notes so there won’t be controversy at the next meeting.
@Seana – I totally love your strategy to finish a meeting! That way everyone can be accountable to get stuff done!
I love how you establish ground rules for communication, delegation, and more. Having team members work using their strengths benefits everyone. I also like how you describe making tweaks as you fine-tune your systems. It sounds like a beautiful and collaborative group you worked (or are working) with.
Thank you @Linda! It was a great experience to start from the ground up and create a collaborative environment.