Given the positive impact that collaboration can have on an organization’s ability to get things done and to launch innovative products and services, there can be no argument against building effective collaborative networks and teams. Taken from a article in a recent issue of Positively Successful magazine, here are 7 things you can do to foster collaborative relationships in which all parties are willing participants ensuring successful outcomes.
1. Reach out to others, don’t wait for others to approach you. Build relationships with the most effective colleagues who have adopted the attitude and understanding of what can be accomplished through collaboration. But do not ignore the members who are less assertive or are less prone to fight through unwelcoming group dynamics preventing them from participating. The best outcome relies on everyone being heard and feeling a part of the group. This increases camaraderie and morale, improving team performance.
2. Be clear about your role and what is expected of you and the role and expectations of each member. Besides giving direction this keeps everyone on task.
3. Participate to promote competent teamwork. While there might be friction and tension, be the team member who recognizes the talent in each other and encourage fellow members to share their opinions. Exercise your impeccable communication skills and listen, ask questions to avoid group think, share thoughts, concerns, ideas and opinion, respectfully challenge those of others to ensure clarity and the best ideas.
4. Don’t be an obstacle. If there is something happening in the team that you don’t agree with, find a solution to help the team move beyond it. If you are the problem you may not see it, so if the team is not progressing it is time to get feedback about team dynamics.
5. Learn the skills and knowledge you need to effectively participate. Rather than remain frustrated or non productive, get candid and honest feedback. Then acquire the skills needed to be a more effective team member.
6. Participate with an open mind. The diverse nature of teams infers that there will be different work styles and working expectations. Working with people outside of their normal environment means challenges are not far behind. The best response is to understand differences and establish team norms so that the differences are not a problem. Adopt a corrective approach to getting things done rather than punitive; working to figure out how to get the project completed rather than who to blame. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand.” Your way is not the right way, it is only one way.
7. Commit to being flexible and a participant who will do what every necessary to ensure success. Participate with a positive attitude and be a part of the solution. While others complain and blame, look for ways to fix the problem, help to remove the barriers, push beyond the challenges, quash the negative behaviors and to redirect the group when necessary.