How to Collaborate Effectively

Collaboration is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot. If you’re like me, you may be thinking back to your school days and remember cringing every time the teacher said “Get into groups and (insert task here)”. Flash forward to your career and you may be riddled with that same feeling. Just because you’re working with a team doesn’t necessarily mean you’re collaborating as well as you can be. Learning to collaborate effectively is critical in today’s hyper-connected economy.

Take it from world-renowned comedian and writer Amy Poehler, who said, “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” Poehler is no stranger to finding immense success in collaboration. Think Parks and Recreation, Mean Girls, and Saturday Night Live. But no matter what field you are venturing into, here are some tips to make the best of collaborative opportunities.

  1. Get to know a bit about what your colleagues do outside of work. You’ll likely find common threads that can help to foster a friendly work environment. It’s proven that people are more productive and engaged in their work when they feel a sense of camaraderie.
  2. Clearly delineate group roles and when each piece is expected to be complete. Nothing can fudge up a group effort like failing to make the objectives clear. Set deadlines as a group and check in on each other’s progress.
  3. Talk openly about various communication styles. No matter if we feel like our way is the best way, there are many more people out there who approach things differently and may feel the same way about what you do. Have each person share how they communicate best.
  4. Work to produce the level of quality you’d expect from your peers. Period.
  5. Be open to ideas you didn’t think of yourself and be willing to accept when your ideas don’t go over the way you’d expected.




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