Tips to improve collaboration at work and home

March 23, 2015

I’m a great believer in collaboration – people working together in business to increase efficiency, get the best of all ideas and improve business success. So I was curious when Teresa Amabile  (Author of The Progress Principle) wrote a blog on collaborating with a loved one without ruining your relationship –   Would there be lessons to take back to the workplace from our day-to-day experiences in our most personal relationships at home?

Collaboration lessons from our loving relationships

Teresa raised about 4 key points she learnt from collaborating with her husband when writing the Progress Principle:

Collaboration needs to start with a strong foundation:  so be clear on the purpose of this collaboration, where you are going with it and the outcomes you desire. Sounds very similar to the messages in business about being clear on the purpose of the business.  And ties in with the message from Simon Sinek about starting with Why.

Maximise cooperation, minimise competition:  sounds obvious but needs to be proactive.  Find ways to encourage joint working even when there are times when a task could be done by just one person / team.  Equally to avoid the negative impact of internal competition have clarity on how one party can raise their concerns. Call a time out. Give all collaborators clear methods to raise their concerns.

Work  to exploit similarities and differences in abilities and styles: again sounds like common sense but how often do you and your colleagues deliberately plan a task or project and allocate work  that matches a person’s skills and strengths?  There is a great deal of research now that supports the idea that people and teams should focus on their strengths.  They should not put in effort to improve their weaknesses. So work at what you are good at and know what others are good at so you can share the work and get the best from all involved.

Respect each other’s contributions: this is a big one to apply.  Yet costs nothing.  I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t respond to being shown respect for their ideas and work. Respect could come through showing appreciation for a piece of work or simply giving somebody some of your time to discuss an issue or even asking them for advice or their opinion.

And I couldn’t finish this blog without quoting Teresa’s last comment about collaboration, whether it’s at home or work:

“From the very beginning, figure out a process for leveraging other’s strengths, compensating for each other’s weaknesses, and cooperating in a spirit of respectful kindness.”