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Introducing the Practice of Collaboration

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Collaboration is a proven way of reaching across the globe, through time-zones and cultures, to get tasks done. While collaboration is widely understood as a term, many people don’t fully understand how to perform it in practice.

Collaboration on projects

The role of the project leader

The project leader ultimately sets the tone for a new collaboration project. A common mistake to assume at the start that everyone is aware of what needs to be done, just because they have been in a collaboration previously. So from the outset, the leader should paint a picture of success for the collaborative team, and outline the ‘end-in-mind’. This should include specific details on the performance that is required from individuals and from the team, the level of input or work needed, and the project roadmap and timescale. When everyone involved in a collaboration project knows what they have to do, for whom, by when, and to what standard, they become willing and effective participants, and are on the road to a successful conclusion.

The role of the team member

As an individual team member, you will need to establish trust between yourself and all of the various stakeholders on the project, and to demonstrate your own personal credibility. This takes work, and time, but is a vital step on the road to successful collaboration.

Establishing trust

To help establish yourself as a trustworthy, credible collaborator, be honest with yourself, right from the start, about what you are bringing to the table. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you have time to work on this collaboration project?
  • Do you have the right skill set for the job?
  • Do you know enough about the subject?
  • How committed are you to the project?
  • Can you stand over the deadline?
  • Are you ethical and do you hold sound values?
  • Do you have the courage to engage meaningfully with others – and to challenge people when necessary?
  • Is there a budget and do you have access to it?
  • What authority do you have over the project?

By answering these questions honestly, you will get a sense of how successful a collaborator you are likely to be, how credible and trustworthy your co-collaborators will find you, and what areas you need to work on.

Maximizing credibility

From the start of the process, focus on taking concrete steps that maximize your personal credibility.

  • It is important to be open and honest in all of your communications within the wider team. Never over-promise, exaggerate, or withhold information. Always listen to different viewpoints without falling back on pre-conceived opinions or jumping to conclusions.
  • Try to understand what knowledge or skills you are lacking. Be up-front about this with your team, while doing whatever you can in the background to gain the skills or knowledge you lack.
  • Realistically confirm your time commitments. If you only have a couple of hours a week to devote to the project, or have a three-week vacation coming up, don’t commit to working on the project full-time for a month just to keep everyone happy. Only accept tasks that you can actually complete on time and to the stated requirements.
  • Place yourself in the position of the other stakeholders. Try to see their perspectives and the challenges that they face. If you can assist or guide them to success, then you are creating a more cohesive and trusting collaborative team that has a better chance of achieving lasting success.
  • Enjoy the collaboration process for both the learning value and social value. You should emerge from this process with a real sense of achievement, with an improved working relationship with your colleagues, and perhaps even with enhanced expertise and skills.
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Kevin J Reid

CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

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    Working With Others
    Kevin J Reid
    Skills Expert

    Organizations are more likely to perform well when their employees work together effectively. To be successful in today’s workplace, it’s important to develop good interpersonal relationships with your colleagues, and to be able to collaborate with them successfully when the need arises. It’s also important to be able to communicate well with your colleagues, so you can get your message across and ensure it is understood.

    In this module, you will learn about the personal skills you should cultivate in order to collaborate successfully, such as the ability to listen actively and to ‘lead beyond your authority’. You will also discover strategies you can use to improve team collaboration, such as holding regular meetings and sending fewer emails.

    You will learn why good communication matters – and how you are communicating even when you are silent, before you utter a single word. You will also be introduced to strategies you can use to communicate effectively and improve your day-to-day interactions with others, including observing body language, asking short but impactful questions, and using pauses for effect.