You work with your fellow employees every day, and you’ve gotten to know them and learned how to deal with them. But do you know how to collaborate with them? Regardless of your position within the company, working alongside your fellow employees is very different from collaborating with them.
Evan Rosen, an internationally recognized collaboration and communication strategist, takes it one step further: “I define collaborating as working together to create value while sharing virtual or physical space,” he says.
Collaboration is most successful when colleagues “share common values, culture and goals; trust one another; have common platforms and systems; have access to the same data and information; and use similar tools,” adds Rosen, who is the author of The Bounty Effect: 7 Steps to The Culture of Collaboration® and The Culture of Collaboration®.
Working together productively can yield greater results than going it alone, in the spirit of the solitary cowboy archetype.
“Nobody should be working in isolation in 2016,” asserts Rosen. “The truth is that in history, nobody has done great things by themselves.”
Politicians have cabinets of experts to call upon, business leaders have a hierarchy of subject matter experts to draw from—even executive chefs have kitchens full of sous chefs, prep cooks and dishwashers to help them create a seamless experience for diners.
In the workplace, this translates to tapping into the talent at your fingertips—whether it’s face-to-face with the co-worker in the next cube or via teleconference with someone halfway around the world—and coming together to take care of business.
Collaborating effectively takes practice. Here’s how to get the ball rolling:
- Start with yourself. Although you may not be able to dictate how everyone around you acts, you do have control over your own behavior. You can begin by identifying individuals with whom you’d like to collaborate and building relationships with them.
"Start reaching across functions and silos and work with colleagues regardless of level, role or region."
– Evan Rosen, Collaboration and Communication Strategist
- Rethink the traditional meeting. Many people dread meetings. Why? They are often seen as unproductive wastes of time. “What is too often missing is the exchange of ideas, and the opportunity to create value together is lost.” Rosen’s solution: “Recast traditional meetings as collaborative group sessions.” This can be accomplished by creating an informal atmosphere where people feel comfortable contributing their suggestions and opinions and where work is produced together during the session rather than delegated to various silos with slippery due dates.
Continue to sharpen your collaboration skills with the following resources:
- Read: The Bounty Effect: 7 Steps to The Culture of Collaboration® and The Culture of Collaboration® by Evan Rosen
- Watch: TED video, The new power of collaboration by Howard Rheingold
- Attend: Take one of Accidental Creative's collaboration workshops