“Collaboration” isn’t just a feel-good word that means giving each employee his or her fair chance to contribute. It’s a mindset based on great communication and being open to new ideas, and it brings real business value across the board. A collaborative team will grow its accountability, morale, self-awareness, efficiency, innovation and many other areas.
As with many concepts that can transform your organization for the better, the improvement begins with the individual – with you. Here are some behaviors that can quickly change the collaborative atmosphere where you work. Try them yourself – you might find that they bring new energy and fun to your day!
- Keep your door open, literally and figuratively.
Collaboration is about making connections with others and creating an environment of big ideas. Take the time to engage with the people around you, talk about ideas and make time for creative “daydreaming.” Whether you set aside time each week for brainstorming, or simply encourage people to share their ideas with you, this open mindset can help energize your organization.
- Ask more questions.
Sounds simple enough. But how often are you actually doing it? Never underestimate the power of curiosity and knowledge to improve your operations and finished product. Learning about what your team is doing – what’s happening around you that you might not have looked deeply into before – can ignite a more collaborative environment.
- Listen more closely.
If it isn’t clear by now – great communication plays a big role in great collaboration. That includes the ability to truly hear and understand others. The Dalai Lama said: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. When you listen, you have the opportunity to discover something new.” Pay attention. Make eye contact. We are often so busy plotting our response that we don’t hear the whole answer. We also limit our perception of body language and other non-verbal signals.
- Break the monotony – solo or as a team.
Breathe. Stretch. Do something out of the ordinary. Breaking your routine can improve energy and optimism. A great way to rally your team is to get outside of the building. Take boxed lunches to the park for your meeting, catch a noontime concert, watch a TED Talk, host an out-of-the-ordinary training session … these simple attitude adjusters can improve collaboration.
- Plan ahead – then live in the moment.
Try setting aside 30 minutes each day for planning: 10 minutes to reflect on the past, 10 minutes to look ahead long-term, and 10 minutes to make an action plan for the next day. Spend the rest of your day engaging with the world around you. Smile and make eye contact. Allow your interest to be captured. You will make a true connection with other people, which is at the heart of collaboration and creativity.
- Be more inclusive of ideas (and people).
Maintaining a strong collaborative mentality means being open to saying “yes.” In many cases your ideas, and those of others, can co-exist and be made stronger through each other. Having this attitude will draw people to you – and you never know who your next ally could be.
- Fail as a team – learn as a team.
Don’t be afraid to put bold ideas into play. There is no innovation without failure. If your team is willing to take risks together, fail together and grow from those failures together, this collaborative spirit will help your finished product reach new heights.
New House Productions is a team of musicians, educators and speakers with years of combined experience performing around the world. Using the analogy of a musical ensemble, we provide skills training for organizations with a focus on collaboration. We illustrate our lessons through a live musical performance. Learn more about us.