Posted on 04/04/2022


What is one tip for collaborating effectively with coworkers? To help you collaborate effectively with coworkers, we asked small business owners and career experts this question for their best insights. From centralizing all communications from the get-go to developing a shared understanding, there are several tips that may help you successfully work together with coworkers in the future. Here are 13 tips on how to collaborate effectively with coworkers:
  • Centralize all Communications from the Get-Go
  • Be a Problem Solver
  • Encourage Leaders to Exhibit Collaborative Behaviors
  • Utilize Technology to Your Benefit
  • Practice Empathy 
  • Foster Informal Mentorship
  • Focus On Team-Building
  • Stop Getting in the Way by Speaking Too Soon
  • Create a Judgment-Free Zone 
  • Challenge Your Team
  • Set Clear Goals and Assignments 
  • Be Aware of Different Working Styles and Preferences
  • Develop a Shared Understanding
 

Centralize all Communications from the Get-Go

Regardless of whether you're working with a hybrid or virtual team, emphasize the importance of remote-first work culture. This includes using a centralized virtual platform for communication so that all team members, regardless of their location, will always be in the loop. Remote workers tend to miss out on small exchanges and updates that take place amongst in-office team members which then creates a lot of back and forth. A centralized communication platform eliminates this problem entirely. Moreover, it encourages team members to collaborate and communicate online, effectively raising the team's morale and sense of camaraderie. Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.  

Be a Problem Solver

The ultimate aim of every workplace collaboration is to overcome hurdles or enhance processes by finding solutions for existing problems that stand in the way. When you don the role of a problem solver, you bring to the workplace a crucial aspect that helps resources go further, reduces exhaustion, introduces innovation, and makes tasks easier to accomplish. This trait helps build effective collaborations that even enable your coworkers to recognize you as a valuable work asset. Danielle Bedford, Coople  

Encourage Leaders to Exhibit Collaborative Behaviors

Having a leadership team that does not embody the behaviors and values you promote is one of the worst things you can do when working to improve collaboration. When a manager says one thing and does another, any sense of authenticity is jeopardized. Employees at all levels should strive to collaborate closely and use the available tools and practices. Axel Hernborg, Tripplo.com  

Utilize Technology to Your Benefit

Collaboration doesn't just have to be an in-person affair these days. Coordination through various platforms is an excellent way to create efficient and effective collaboration. For example, using specific channels in Slack can quickly create a hub between collaborators where they can always return to discuss specific ideas or requirements. Then services like Google Drive or Dropbox ensure that everyone has the files they need for the work that needs to be done on hand at all times. Used effectively, these platforms will dramatically increase the efficiency of collaborative work. Kate Lipman, embrace Scar Therapy  

Practice Empathy

If you want to collaborate more effectively with coworkers, you have to put yourself in their shoes. Think about what responsibilities and projects they have on their plate, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how you would want to be approached if you were in their shoes. Are you their superior? Subordinate? From a different department with radically different expertise? To get the most out of meetings with your coworkers, you need to stop and apply some empathy. If you’re able to approach your coworker like you would want to be approached if you were in their shoes, you're much more likely to make a connection and drive more effective collaboration. Not everyone is empathetic by nature and it can be hard placing yourself in another's position, especially when you barely know them. But if you’re able to approach colleagues with a sense of understanding and willingness to be flexible, you’ll be much better off. John Ross, Test Prep Insight  

Foster Informal Mentorship

Informal mentorship plays a huge role in effective collaboration, which means integrating the practice into everyday activities. You can encourage informal mentorship early on, giving new hires a list of the coworkers they most need to meet and making the connections they need for daily coaching between teammates. By allowing mentorship relationships to form naturally rather than forcing them formally, you build a company culture around giving each other the gift of support and knowledge, rather than transactionally trading it. David Aylor, David Aylor Law Offices  

Focus On Team-Building

It's important to strengthen team-building skills to successfully collaborate with employees in each department. When everyone is aligned and can work together towards a common end goal, the process runs smoother and increases work productivity. Not only does this execute a positive work environment, but also allows managers to delegate tasks and work off the strengths of employees. Team building skills are a must for any business owner to effectively run a business and motivate others to reach personal and company milestones. Sara Adam Slywka, Nestig  

Stop Getting in the Way by Speaking Too Soon

Let go of the need to be right, because even when you’re right, you can still lose; if the interaction annihilates the mutual respect and trust within your relationships with coworkers, collaborating is impossible, so keeping an open mind and willingness to listen can be the difference between an effective team and defective team. For example, Steven Covey tells us in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” to Seek first to understand rather than be understood. This is far easier said than done, but it’s proven to be one of the most powerful practices in collaborating with others- at work and in life! By taking a step back from the things I want to say or response I want to make and instead take a moment to clarify what the other person is saying, I allow that person to feel seen and heard, and that has made all the difference. Russell Lieberman, Altan Insights  

Create a Judgment-Free Zone

Whenever I am put in situations where collaboration is necessary, I always begin with a comment about how lucky we are to have such a strong team to set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Giving each member of your team respect and the chance to share their insights in a judgment-free zone is crucial when collaborating. Make sure that you don't shut down others' ideas before giving them the courtesy to explain their thought process. The worst thing that can happen in a collaborative situation is that someone feels too judged or self-conscious to speak their mind. Kindness goes a long way and, if you can be the one who listens and gives space to others, they are much more likely to do the same for you. Colin Palfrey, JollySEO  

Challenge Your Team

One certain way to get your team collaborating is to set them a challenge, then get out of the way and leave them to solve it. Having management involved can stifle collaboration with some team members taking a back seat and waiting for guidance from the management level. With leadership removed from the group, the team members have no option but to work together to solve the problem. By all means, establish some guidelines and best practices, but allow the team as much freedom as you can. Once the team learns to trust in each other, ideas will start flowing and any reluctance to participate is removed. Jonathan Zacks, GoReminders  

Set Clear Goals and Assignments

One failsafe tip for collaborating effectively with co-workers is to set clear goals and assignments from the start. One of my closest friends in college ended up failing his senior capstone class because assignments were not relegated, and all the work fell on him. Clear goals, like mandatory communication periods, prevent lapses like that from happening. Having each team member assigned to specific tasks makes accountability more enforceable and sudden changes more adaptable. Kevin Callahan, Flatline Van Co.  

Be Aware of Different Working Styles and Preferences 

One piece of advice for collaborating effectively with coworkers is to be aware of their working styles and preferences. For example, some people prefer to communicate primarily through email, while others may prefer to have in-person conversations. It's also important to be aware of any deadlines or milestones that need to be met as part of the collaboration. Finally, it's helpful to establish a clear plan for how tasks will be divided and assigned among team members. The best way to make a good team is to ensure that everyone has a common goal. Make sure everyone is aware of the expectations set by the team leader and that there is a clear description of what is to be done and when it needs to be accomplished. Also, figure out your differences with every member of your team. Collaboration means a lot of work, make sure you can have the faith of your team. Try not to make decisions without the consensus of your teammates. Try to compromise with people whenever possible. Neille Bonner, NEC  

Develop a Shared Understanding

A strategy for collaborating effectively with coworkers is to develop a shared understanding of the task at hand and the steps needed to complete it. This can be accomplished by discussing the task with coworkers, clarifying any questions or concerns, and agreeing on a plan of action. It is also important to communicate regularly as the task progresses, sharing updates and ensuring that everyone remains on track. Finally, it is helpful to finish up any outstanding tasks or issues once the project is completed. Communicate openly and honestly, be respectful of their time and work, and be willing to compromise. It is also important to be clear about your expectations and deadlines and to be responsive to feedback. Daniel Brdanovic, Maximo   Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.