1Relationship Building The healthiest collaborative relationships are those where people have taken the time to get to know each other. The deeper the collaboration needed for a project the more important it is to build a strong relationship with those you are working with. You don’t have to be BFF’s with everyone, but take the time to get to know others. The bonus is that good business referrals often flow from these relationships.
2Communication Like all healthy relationships, collaboration is built on strong communication. In our modern age, we are so connected through phones, emails, messaging, and social media. Some people find they communicate best face to face, and others over emails or phone calls. Part of being a good communicator is knowing what your communication preferences are, and what those of others are.
If you have a colleague who hates being in the lime light, then praising that person in front of a large crowd is probably not going to have the desired effect. Instead a heartfelt note of appreciation might serve the purpose better. Learn how to communicate with others, and learn how to explain how you prefer to be communicated with.
3Personality Types A strong collaborative has diverse personalities. A collaboration is a place where every person’s strengths should find a place. If you are gregarious and outgoing, then take on the responsibilities that use your personality to an advantage for all. Alternatively, if you are the introvert that has a good intuition in hearing what people are meaning instead of what they are saying, then use that to help translate between members. Celebrate and respect each other’s differences because a collaborative is an amazing place to be supported and support others.
4Flexibility Being flexible is paramount to growing a strong collaborative. When you mix up a bunch of different relationships, communication styles and personality, there is bound to be times of conflict. Being flexible is essential to keeping a harmonious environment. Some people find it easy to change directions, and others need a little space to make a transition. Often it can seem like the later aren’t flexible.
Most of the time they are (or want to be) they just need a little space to readjust. Much conflict can be avoided by just approaching a person with the necessary change needing to be made, then following that up with, “I’m going to give you a few minutes to think about that. I’ll come back in 5 and we can discuss how you want to proceed.” Give people a chance to be flexible, and be willing to be flexible yourself.
5Be a giver Be generous in how you give of your knowledge, time, and resources. “No one ever went broke by giving to others.” What this means is that it is a natural law that those who give, receive. The more a collaborative is filled with people who give of what they have to offer, the stronger it is. Be generous in sharing your wisdom, skills and life experiences with others, because when the time comes that you need help, they will share generously with you.
6Create Good Boundaries Good Boundaries give you more freedom. The balance of being flexible and generous is to have good boundaries. Good boundaries help you stay “no” to the good stuff, so you can say “yes” to the best stuff. Boundaries provide clarity and structure to your dreams and purposes. If you have small children at home, and it’s a priority to be home for dinner with them, then it’s probably not wise for you to commit to helping a colleague after work hours. Instead you could offer to book them in for a one hour slot during work hours instead.
Boundaries are knowing that Important always comes before Urgent.
7Have fun Work hard, but make sure that you make space to have fun. An Ancient Jewish principle of rest is that every 6 years they would work the land and then the 7th year they wouldn’t plant, but instead leave the land to rest.
The same principle can be applied to your work relationships. If you have weekly meetings make one out of seven meetings a time of relationship building. Go out for lunch, Have the meeting at the coffee shop over breakfast, or leave early on a Friday and go out to see a movie.There is a lot of research that shows that these time of relationship building actually leads to more productivity, even though it seems very counter intuitive.
Collaborative Relationships are good for individuals, and good for communities. By committing to these seven principles you are sure to build healthy collaborative relationships that are mutually beneficial for all involved.