“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.”
– Virginia Burden from The Process of Intuition
The Value Of Collaboration
It takes a strong concerted effort to fully realize the objectives of an organization. The value of colleagues being able to collaborate and create strong partnerships should not be understated. Trust and loyalty built during the process reciprocate to a team environment of respect for individual ideas and create internal motivation, which is huge in keeping business moving forward.
Changes of the workforce over the last half century have been numerous, striving for increased efficiency. Office spaces have evolved into open work stations that require flexibility and collaboration. Offices have expanded into homes and remote locations worldwide, requiring a lot of telecommuting with a number of communication barriers and distractions.
Keeping employees long-term is also a modern challenge in business. Partnership skills are valuable in the overall company culture in terms of being engaged and building a network that is worth sustaining over time. People that cannot build partnerships or work within company culture are not expected to stay at a job very long.
Bradley University professor Heljä Antola Crowe wrote a paper on developing partnerships in schools which acknowledged that truly collaborative environments turn obstacles into opportunities. That is, being accommodating to other’s perspectives creates opportunities for coming up with innovative ideas, fresh approaches, and connecting with diverse groups of people. A partnership propels people to build strengths and create unique things. She also noted that dwindling resources usually force people to work together in different places, and often with small budgets.
A Forbes article outlining twelve principles of collaboration made the unique point that “collaboration makes the world a better place.” Indeed, effective collaboration leads to individual contentment, which indirectly makes a more valuable employee and company culture.
Building Collaborative Relationships
The Crowe article viewed differences in style or culture as potential for new possibilities. To be truly collaborative then, involves not being judgmental. Instead, the collaborative teammate will take differences and use them as a springboard for an entirely new idea or road map.
It should also go without saying that it’s better to play nice and not burn bridges. People that can’t get past differences and have a lot of infighting are doomed. A well-guided group needs to see themselves as a whole united for a common cause rather than bicker about differences.
Emotional IQ is a huge way to improve on partnership building, since employers value employees for abilities such as conflict resolution, calmness under pressure, taking criticism, leadership, empathy toward colleagues and other collaboratively beneficial attitudes. Mindfulness to body language, self-health, and communication are a few ways to improve emotional IQ. It pays to be in the moment to be able to understand other people and come to terms with different ideas.
Harvard Business Review’s research of eight ways to build collaborative teams points to the importance of managers structuring teams correctly. Too many experts in a group bring down the overall efforts. The leaders of a group should not necessarily be an expert on the goal of the group, but rather be oriented to both the relationship of members and the assigning of tasks. That is to say, roles of members should be spelled out, but individual tasks should be ambiguous in order to foster diverse ideas.
Collaboration might sound like a catchphrase for modern business, but it is a very real way to learn from diverse circumstances and benefit not only the individual but the company as a whole. The objectives of the project, or organization, need to be clear and evident at all stages with all members, so that techniques of working together can be realized. Because collaboration is about effective engagement and is a necessary business arrangement in the modern era, there can be no underestimating its importance on the company dynamics.