Improving Collaborative Skills at the Workplace
Updated 10 October 2022
Collaboration skills are essential in the workforce, no matter which industry you are in. Collaboration skills allow individuals to work well with others and display effective and efficient co-working habits in the workplace. Knowing how to collaborate also aids in career advancement and helps you and your team achieve better outcomes. Collaboration skills allow the team to successfully work toward a common goal by communicating, being responsible and respecting the diversity of the team. In this article, we discuss the benefits of collaboration, types of collaboration skills and ways to develop your collaboration skills.
What is collaboration?
Collaboration is working together with a group of people to complete a project or task or develop ideas. It usually involves two or more people working together with a common goal and being collaborative benefits the whole team. Collaboration requires skills such as communication, emotional intelligence and discussion skills. Collaborating within a team does not only increase productivity but also promotes a strong bond amongst employees in the workplace. When a team works together, more tasks could be completed especially when there is a higher level of productivity.
Collaborating with coworkers can also increase motivation and engagement at work. While working with others, an individual is usually more motivated to complete the project as there is a stronger sense of responsibility and togetherness. On top of that, sharing ideas and brainstorming as a group is helpful when developing solutions to challenges.
Collaboration skills allow you to work well with others. Successful collaboration requires mutual respect and understanding toward each other. You are able to function effectively in a team if you have the appropriate collaboration skills.
The benefits of collaboration
If you're good at collaborating with others, it is beneficial for both you and your team. Here are some benefits of collaboration:
Good collaboration leads to a combination of talent, skills and knowledge of all the team members. A good combination of these features will enable your team to come up with solutions to your problems. The talents gathered in the team are not limited to professional and technical skills, but also creative skills, soft skills, linguistic skills. This allows you to benefit from a variety of perspectives. When your team is able to leverage every member's expertise, you can solve problems more effectively and deliver better outcomes.
Learning from one another
Collaborating also includes learning from and teaching each other. Learning from others will give you fresh perspectives, and you may find it easier to come up with solutions. Sharing ideas, teaching others and learning from fellow team members is one of the best ways to learn. You learn things from each other every time you come together to collaborate. Even when you do not get the response that you are expecting, listening to others' insights may surprise you. These perspectives will come in handy when you are looking for inspiration to craft ideas. A company that encourages collaboration usually focuses on teaching and learning, and this gives employees the opportunity to grow and develop.
When you have the support of your team, it is so much easier to work together to complete the project and meet deadlines. When a group of people with the same objective works toward the same goal, you can divide tasks to leverage each member's strengths. With collaboration, the team can work more efficiently as everyone is able to focus on things that they are good at.
Types of collaboration skills
There are many skills which are collaborative in nature, such as communication, emotional intelligence and respect. Here are the different types of collaboration skills:
Communicating what's on your mind can be a challenge. When you are collaborating in a team, you need to be able to communicate your opinions freely, but at the same time be open to others' ideas. Good communication skills are important in collaboration. What you say, how you convey it and who you talk to plays a huge difference when you are working in a team. When you are communicating your perspectives, be respectful and do not impose your point of view onto others. Similarly, when others are communicating their ideas, listen respectfully and give constructive feedback. Your non-verbal communication, such as body language and tone also plays a huge role when you are communicating in a team. They affect how people perceive you as a fellow team member. Thus, it is important to consider both your verbal and non-verbal communication when you are collaborating with your team members.
Also Read: How to Improve Communication Skills
Emotional intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage emotions that can be used to collaborate with others. Being aware of your emotions can help in relieving stress, communicating and overcoming challenges. For example, should a team member get lazy or be too fixated on their viewpoints, people with emotional intelligence may interpret this differently. They may see this sudden change of action and emotion to be a symptom of exhaustion or stress and handle it appropriately.
Brainstorming, when incorporated in a collaborative team, is able to bring the team forward in its direction and goals. Having great ideas from multiple team members along with constructive feedback for one another's insights allow you to form creative and effective solutions to challenges. Brainstorming within a group also enforces everyone in the team to leverage each member's areas of expertise, delivering better insights.
An open discussion gives everyone in the team the opportunity to contribute by listening and respecting each other's ideas and providing a constructive reflection on every idea. Instead of letting the leader or only one member present to the team and force everyone to follow orders, a collaborative approach may bring better results. Furthermore, a collaborative discussion promotes inclusion, making sure that everyone in the team feels accepted and this may encourage them to participate more actively in the team's decision-making process. By having a sense of belonging and a positive working environment, team members are more motivated which will result in an increased level of productivity.
Respect for diversity
In this globalised era, it is common to work with people from different countries and cultures, or even colleagues coming from different financial and social backgrounds. To ensure the team's success, it is important that you have respect for diversity. It is essential that you put aside any prejudice against team members and respect everyone equally. Respect for diversity includes calling out any behaviour that reflects any form of discrimination. For example, when a foreign colleague at work is being ignored and his ideas are not taken into consideration, you can step up to include his ideas and initiate a conversation with this colleague.
How to improve collaboration skills
Here are some ways on how you can improve your collaboration skills within your team:
Set clear objectives
This is especially important when you take on the role of a leader. As a leader, you have to set clear objectives and measurable goals at the start of the project. By setting clear objectives, the team will be able to understand the purpose of the project, and it gives them a clear direction to work towards. Understanding their tasks well will also determine the success of the team, encouraging every member to commit to their tasks as much as possible. In addition, setting clear objectives also establishes transparency, builds trust and inspires collaboration within the team.
Speak your mind
When working in a team, it is essential that you constantly communicate with others before tackling a task. Be sure that everyone in the team is on track with their tasks and keep one another updated. This will avoid confusion and at the same time, allow the team members to set realistic deadlines and expectations. If you are facing a challenge, you should also communicate with others, whether it is to seek help or to inform them of the changes that you may be making from the initial plans.
Listen and reflect
Listening to others' ideas and reflecting on them is a good way to improve your collaboration skill. In fact, when you are working within a team, it is essential that you listen to each other's ideas, feedback and advice and be respectful to their insights. Although you may already have a certain expectation or your own idea about the tasks, it is best that you take your fellow team members' opinions into account. Perhaps, when you reflect back, you may realise that you can combine a few ideas and create an even better solution.
To collaborate successfully, you should also try to be open-minded. When working in a team, it is best if everyone is open to new ideas instead of imposing one person's idea on the whole team. Often, other team members might draw different conclusions or develop different ideas about a project, and that is acceptable. Respecting each other's ideas and acknowledging everyone's insights without judgment will help you to draw a better conclusion as well.
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