Have you discovered that more and more of your work tasks involve collaborating with others?
As technology and the accompanying tools evolve, employers are finding it more beneficial to have their workers “come together” and to share ideas and materials for project development.
The Australian-based company INS (acronym for In No-one’s Shadow) has focused much of its efforts on preparing workforces for the future, which includes keeping current employees updated as well as helping companies keep their employees moving towards the future. Although INS is based in Australia, its outreach is global, which means the advice offered on collaboration can be used by all.
Below are several tips from a May 2016 INS article to keep in mind for your collaboration projects. You can click this link to read the entire article.
- Understand the Bigger Picture—mentally move beyond your immediate group and role, and look at the larger outcome of why this project is important.
- Clarify the Objectives—if everyone is “not on the same page,” the project may wind up going nowhere. Make sure the objectives are clearly stated and that everyone understands these objectives. As stated by INS, “…clarify whether all stakeholders and group members have the same objectives, and are working through any differences…”
- Agree on Roles and Leadership—early discussions on and the identification of leadership and the other roles will make it easier to move forward on the project. It is also important to establish accountability as it is connected to the various roles.
- Know the Boundaries—just as accountability is important, it is equally vital for each person to know boundaries for themselves and others and to have these boundaries respected.
- Develop an Ecosystem, not an ‘Egosystem’—remember, it’s about the successful completion of the project and not about someone grandstanding. Being a good listener (this goes for all group members) is essential.
- Value Diverse Input—keep an open mind and realize that everyone’s contributions to the discussions and efforts should be appreciated.
If you want to improve your communication and collaboration skills, consider taking the BOSS program’s POFT 2312 Business Correspondence and Communication at Richland College.
Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses. For more information email RichlandBOSS@dcccd.edu, or call 972-238-6215.
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What are the real benefits of teamwork in business? Why is it increasingly important? Teamwork and team building are being used in business environments where the nature of the work is complex or multifaceted, not to mention fast-paced. Working in isolation as a single contributor may not be as productive as several colleagues with different skills working toward a single goal. Successful teams rely on three effective mechanisms: communication, collaboration, and coordination. I will discuss each of these mechanisms over the course of three posts, the first being this one which is dedicated to ‘communication’.
WHAT IS EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION?
It is a successful exchange of ideas between colleagues or team members that produce solutions to problems, improvements in process, setting expectations, knowledge sharing, and creating awareness. In short, effective communication assures quality in products and services.
- It should be concise.
- It should present information in the form of a well thought out plan.
- It should be clear and easy to understand.
- It should speed up the decision-making process.
- It should be inherently persuasive. That is, the material or information being presented should be convincing and factual.
FORMS OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
- Informal Discussions
Rules and forms of communication are obvious. What is not obvious is the manner in which team members or colleagues verbally interact with each other. Be aware that you are a member of a team which means each person has a voice in the process. When making comments or presenting information, be sure to invite your colleagues to respond with questions, improvements or enhancements, possible redundancies or even errors of which you may not be aware.
- Consider Your Audience Your audience is your team, colleagues, or stakeholders. Written and verbal communication must not be overly informal. Think of the tone in which you are communicating. When writing, do not fall into ‘text talk’ or ‘sofa chat’. At the same time, do not be overly formal. Remember, you are not at a back yard barbecue, nor are you addressing Congress. This advice also applies to verbal communication. The most important skill is being able to identify your audience and adapt your tone and style of communication to the situation.
- Question, Listen, and Encourage When working within your team, think of yourself as a teacher or facilitator. Yes, you should invite questions and comments, but you should also take it one step further. The roles of teacher and facilitator focus on developing a healthy exchange between students and attendees. What is the best way to accomplish this? Question, listen, and encourage. Question your team members on their points of view. Make a concerted effort to listen and show sincere interest in their ideas. When comments or feedback display creativity or ingenuity, encourage more dialogue. Invite your colleagues to explore their ideas and report back to the group.
- Stay on Point Whether facilitating or communicating within a team meeting, stay on point. Follow the agenda. Be aware of time constraints even as you question, listen, and encourage. This burden does not always fall to the person who called the meeting. Each member has a responsibility to make valuable contributions.
Next time, look forward to my discussion of the second ‘C’, the benefits of collaboration in the team environment.
For an expanded discussions on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:
Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013
Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010
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