Working with others is definitely unavoidable and sometimes necessary—but it doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are some collaboration tips that will make your next group effort go as smoothly as possible.
Establish a Common Goal
What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? Whether it be a big project with a large group or just a small task with one other person, establishing an encompassing goal can help to keep your efforts focused. Agree on a common goal before you start a project, and update or change it as time goes on (if needed).
Design a Plan of Work
Having steps for your project and creating a general timeline takes a small amount of time but can set the mood for the rest of the project and keep the group on track. If you start off organized, you’re more likely to reach the finish line organized as well.
Designate Tasks for Each Person
Keep in mind each person’s area of expertise and skill level, then designate accordingly. This tip works to keep each person’s work efficient, because if you tailor the tasks to the person, then everyone is more likely to contribute in a way that interests them and utilizes skills that they already possess.
Keep Communication Open
This is especially important if your group doesn’t work physically close to each other, although it is important for all collaboration efforts nonetheless. Establish regular meetings, send emails, have conference calls, even text each other—whatever works best to keep the group updated with each other’s’ progress. Additionally, be willing to listen to each other’s ideas and discuss ways you can make your collaboration better or more efficient.
It doesn’t have to be “all business”. I find that getting to know my coworkers actually increases rather than decreases productivity. A joke from time to time or a short chat about what they did over the weekend lifts spirits and creates a supportive environment to work in. It also encourages a team spirit, which decreases the chance of the dreaded “slackers” in the group.
These five tips will help to ease your collaboration efforts, but remember to always keep your eye on the “prize”, or the main reason that the collaboration is taking place. Be willing to work with others, and they’re more likely to want to work with you.