‘’Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.’’ Tim Gunn
Team members should collaborate. Many people mistake communication for collaboration. Communication is only about message transfer and collaboration is about working with others to do a certain task. Collaboration happens when students finish their project on time or a fire brigade turns out the fire.
In order to have great collaboration you need people with defined ROLES who want to ACHIEVE shared GOALS.
If people are to work together, they need to be organized in an appropriate way. Each person within a team should have a clear and previously defined role and responsibilities. For example, if a medical team in a hospital dealing with a trauma patient had to negotiate roles, e.g. anesthetist, surgeon, in advance of starting work on the patient, time would be wasted and the patient would be put at risk. With clearly defined roles the team can get to work immediately and focus on the needs of the patient.
During the team meetings, group members should know in advance what role they are to play during each meeting (i.e. leader, trouble-shooter, detail person, big picture person, creative input, progress-chaser, and reviewer). Role division should be done based on members’ expertise or experience. If something comes up along the process state the single person responsible as well as the due date to do it. If you do not do that, be aware that it will not be done because everyone will assume it would be done by ‘somebody else’.
Group work functions best when everyone participates actively in the development of the project; however, it is not unusual for a group to have one or more members who are occasionally or chronically unproductive. The first thing which needs to be checked is what is the reason why the group member is not participating or producing and manage solution according to the findings. Maybe the group member is too busy at the moment or needs additional encouraging.
It is also important to keep track of the teamwork. All team members’ activities need to be monitored. Some people simply need to be held accountable and reminded to meet deadlines or conform to expectations.
Group members should be aware of their roles, but more importantly, they need to have clear objectives of the task. To make sure everyone understands what should be done, goals should be simple and clear. Objectives referring to results rather than just products and can provide greater clarity and focus. Also, by linking a team’s or project’s goals to larger goals you can find inspiration and a higher sense of purpose. Everyone in the team will feel they are playing a meaningful role.
Team members should invest their time, knowledge and experience in order for their team to succeed. But, they also need to relay on each other, meaning they should know what to expect of each other. Maybe, the most prominent member of the team is, at the time, the busiest and cannot fully participate in the project so the most complex tasks cannot be managed by him or her and need to be shared among several other participants.
Achieve the collaboration
To arrange collaboration time and place are needed. The team members should meet each other regularly. Meetings can be arranged in Starbucks, city library or company’s meeting room, once a week or several times a day. Nevertheless, the best place for collaboration is the Internet.
Nowadays, communication is much easier via Internet: people from different countries or even continents and talk to each other at any time, even face to face if they have cameras.
Collaboration is initiated by easy communication and with specialized collaboration software which enable document sharing, reports and projects storing and the process of updating, it is fast and easy. Accessing to that information from a single source will eliminate the risk of out-of-date information, and duplication. These platforms have been providing information sharing within and outside companies. Speaking of sharing, The Water Network launched by TallyFox, the leading online network for global water professionals, consists of 5200 companies represented from over 170 countries. But there is so much more then global information exchange. By using this collaboration platform, a team within a company can easily divide tasks, conduct discussions, share updates, review checklists and obtain approvals. The platform’s tagging, searching and messaging features make it easier to ask for help, locate documents that can be reused and share best practices.
Collaboration gets any work done when the people who know how to do it and why they should do it, achieve it together.