A Stanford University research study concluded that collaboration boosts intrinsic motivation. Working on a project with at least one other person helps participants maximize their efforts while simultaneously enjoying their work.
Of course, group work does not come without its own drawbacks. As offices become increasingly digital and the workday ever more remote, there is an element of fatigue to consider in the midst of seemingly endless Zoom calls, video conferences, and "all-or-nothing" decision-making. Collaboration does work, but it cannot be aimless.
As we move into a new year, I thought I might provide some useful tips for building rapport among new faces and successfully collaborating in professional settings.
Over the past nine months, I have noticed as the pandemic introduced new barriers to successful collaboration. With social distancing and increased isolation, we are less likely to have met new coworkers than ever before. Some professionals hired during the pandemic have not yet had the opportunity to even work from the office.
Because we are less likely to know our team members personally than we were one year ago, we must strategize around new ways in which we can collaborate for the betterment of our work. We must recognize these drawbacks for what they are, but also see the opportunities that lie within them. After all, nothing worthwhile ever comes easily.
Several studies offer qualitative advice on how a professionally collaborative effort can reach its full potential. For example, a 2019 survey from Slack found that outlining responsibilities for each project member is crucial. Each professional must understand their individual role and the roles of each of their fellow group members. It is equally important to discuss each member's strengths, weaknesses, and schedules to better prepare the team for completing the task.
Precisely and efficiently outlining the responsibilities of each member of the team helps collaborators become familiar with the ways in which each individual works.
Knowing how each member of your team works most efficiently is particularly useful for larger groups because it facilitates niche, specialized development. Clarifying these niches prevents duplicative work and territorial behavior, setting the tone for completing the project to each team member's best ability.
It may seem intimidating to confront another colleague about what works for you and what doesn't, especially if you have not yet had the opportunity to build rapport with that individual or group. Despite initial discomfort, open and honest communication will always result in a higher quality of work in the long run. Share with your team if you work best under pressure, or if you need weeks in advance to complete a task. Understanding the ways in which each member of your team best completes their work will help you set expectations for yourself and for each other.
More than anything, transparency is best in times of isolation, as it is easiest in these times to go on for days to the beat of your own drum. Starting a project with a new team can be a challenge after spending so much time on your own. In this instance, I recommend setting a schedule for regular check-ins and feedback during collaborative projects.
Set weekly meetings on your calendar to check in with the entire team. Outline your intentions for each discussion so the meetings are meaningful and the team feels driven to build further on their performance.
Sending an agenda to your team prior to meetings will help keep the discussions on track and allow others to formulate their ideas before pitching in during the conversation. Be sure the agenda follows your project timeline so everyone stays focused on the road ahead. Finally, leave time at the end of meetings for discussion and feedback from all members of the team so everyone feels heard and accounted for.
About Bo Parfet
Bo Parfet is the CEO of Denali Venture Philanthropy. He founded this organization with his wife, Meredith, in 2010. As the organization's CEO, Parfet takes pride in continuing his family legacy of philanthropy by helping social entrepreneurs foster positive social change in their communities, and ultimately, the world. He has a background in finance and investment banking and degrees in economics and business administration. Parfet resides in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and children. As an avid mountaineer who has climbed each of the Seven Summits, he is incredibly grateful to live close to nature and adventure.
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