Very few jobs are purely self-driven and isolated so being a great collaborator is essential in the modern workplace. If you want to improve your collaboration skills at work, try out these 6 tips!
1. Lay Out Specific Roles and Responsibilities: If no one knows what they’re supposed to do or who they’re supposed to turn to with questions collaborations can quickly turn into nightmares. At the beginning of any collaborative project, and regularly throughout the project, make sure you all set aside specific roles and responsibilities for each person. Keeping a record of this can also be helpful and be prepared to shift these expectations and let everyone know when you do if needed.
2. Schedule Regular, Brief Check-Ins: Long meetings can crush the soul of any project but scheduling regular, brief check-ins is important to help keep the lines of communication open in any collaborative work situation. These check-ins will help everyone stay on the same page but, if you keep them brief, they don’t have to take up too much of anyone’s time so you can all get back to the work you need to be (and probably would rather be) doing.
3. Share To-Do Lists: Making your own to-do lists can help you stay productive but researchers have recently found that sharing your to-do lists with others can amp up that productivity. Be prepared to hold your collaborators accountable and have them hold you accountable by sharing your daily or weekly to-do lists with the group so everyone knows when you’re falling behind and possibly need a little more assistance or time.
4. Make Adjustments to Play to Your Strengths: One of the best things about collaborating is that your weak spots can be covered by others’ strengths. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses at the beginning of the project and you can ensure that your responsibilities will play to your strengths. Of course, be prepared to adjust along the way and compromise for other people’s strengths, time management issues, or other elements of the project that may shift.
5. Stay Positive and Encouraging: During any collaborative project (or any project in general) there might be times that get hectic, stressful, or overwhelming. The best thing you can do is set your own stress and ego aside and try to infuse a little more positivity and encouragement into the workplace. Whether you offer praise when you notice someone doing an exceptional job, lead a fun group break on a stressful day, or simply come in with an unwavering smile this will go a long way and help you have better collaborative relationships.
6. Criticize the Act Not the Person: Human nature is complex but two things are sure to happen at some point during your collaborative process: butting heads when working with other people and making mistakes. The best way to avoid damaging work relationships and letting one issue get in the way of the entire team’s productivity is to deliver criticism in a constructive way that doesn’t get personal. No, this doesn’t just mean prefacing your critique with “Don’t take this personally” it means talking to the person who messed up about what they did rather than framing it as a fault in their person, work ethic, or character.
Working with others can be a rewarding, fulfilling experience if you know how to collaborate well. With these 6 tips you’ll be able to improve your workplace collaborations and your job performance overall!