Sharpening your collaboration skills

Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.
Mattie Stepanek

Collaboration can be a skill many people neglect. Although many teams need to improve on it. Great team players know how to do this well. They don’t always need the spotlight and can celebrate their teammate’s accomplishments as well as their own.

Understand roles

Team members that clearly understand their roles can really work well together. Many years ago I heard someone describe this in relation to Larry Bird’s college team at Indiana State. Larry was, of course, a super start but, the rest of the team knew their role. A few were really good at rebounding and couple others excelled at defense and ball handling. They worked well together, good enough to get to the NCAA Championship game.

Great collaborators know their role! #Team Click To Tweet

Open Communication

It easy to communicate when things are going well and everyone agrees. True collaboration takes place when people have a difference of opinion and they can have an open and frank discussion. To outsiders, it may seem like there is some tension. If the team has good respect for each other there can be disagreement that comes to a resolution.

Goal Agreement

Collaboration is helped by having a team with goal agreement. If we have people chasing various goals we see the overall performance lacking. In the book called The Goal by Eli Goldratt, he discusses this problem in light of a manufacturing manager. In the plant, each department has a separateĀ goal. After some time Mr. Rogo learns how to set the goal and get everyone in the plant on the same page.

Method Consensus

Once we have the goal set we need to go about the same way. Having worked in software development for more than fifteen years I have worked on a few large projects. A few times we have had people using various methods to complete their work. This can cause the work to be inconsistent. The team needs to agree on the method of completion and have a shared definition of what “done” looks like.

Everyone needs to agree on what done looks like! #Collaboration Click To Tweet

Cooperation with Obstacles

Something is going to come up that is unexpected. When you collaborate with others on your team you will be able to tackle more obstacles than if you go it alone. Even if it is having someone listen to you talk through your obstacle and the options you have. You will never know their strengths and skills if you don’t work together.


One last collaboration skill that is good to have is to be humble. Don’t forget that we can all make mistakes. Also, remember we should be able to laugh at ourselves. When need not take things too seriously. This can help get through those inevitable obstacles you will encounter.

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