Working within a team is a standard in the workplace and throughout life. From family, to friend groups, to project teams at work or in class, the presence of a team is inevitable. Being a more productive, collaborative and positive member of a group helps you touch on and improve almost every part of your life. Here are three tips to help you begin improving how you collaborate.
Quality collaboration comes from active and engaged communication. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is: all members of a team should feel free to speak their mind, share ideas and work with others to find solutions to inter-team issues, or get on the same page about logistics.
But there’s more to active communication than regular texts or emails, though that is a big part of it, according to Nat Measley. The Your Culture Story founder is an adjunct professor and culture consultant at Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, and when he’s not teaching or finding new, better ways to collaborate, he’s helping others publish books to solidify their branding and messaging through his venture.
Nat says “Active communication is obvious to many people, especially in today’s digital age. It can be regular texts or emails, or maybe even communication in something like Slack, but more importantly than just actively communicating, is setting up ground rules for expectations. For instance, after the meeting, it might be wise for someone to draft up some notes to share with everyone about what was covered. Another good practice is to set boundaries for when an email can be expected – if you aren’t on email after 8 p.m., make it known so others can adapt and adjust accordingly.”
Add some boundaries and rules to your communication to help everyone stay on the same page and share the same reasonable expectations. But simple communication isn’t always, well, simple, even with some ground rules involved.
It’s about your attitude too
So you’ve set some rules for your team and started following them. Just committing to communication, even with some ground rules, isn’t enough to guarantee productivity or positivity. It’s imperative to consider your own attitude, and to constantly reflect on how it is impacting those you are working closest with.
“Nothing drags a group down more than someone who doesn’t want to be there,” explained Nat. “A dud group team member can definitely get the tempers flaring, but remember to keep it out of email and limit it to face-to-face communication to maintain professionalism in your disagreement.”
The digital age has given us all the power to instantly rebuff any potential attack, over email or otherwise, but doing so forgets the human element of our channels of communication. Can you really say for certain what that person’s tone was, and do you know the ins and outs of their day? A positive attitude and willingness to be flexible in your communication make working with a less-than-stellar teammate more doable, and hopefully in the long run, more positive and productive.
“When I was at the Fun Dept., we had a policy that any snippy emails would immediately require a conversation,” shared Nat. “Rather than fire back over email, we had a small enough team that we could sit down face to face and work through whatever it was, safe from the danger of ruffling feathers over digital communication.”
Invest in other’s work (and success)
Another best practice for improving your group’s collaboration is to buy into what your teammates are doing. Learn the intricacies of their daily tasks and share your own as well: create a high level understanding of what is required from each team member, and it will create an understanding and gratitude around the team.
“It’s easy to get caught up in your own tasks and forget what others have on their plate,” noted Nat. “So while you’re setting your boundaries, give an assessment of your tasks so others can not only understand your pain, but positively collaborate to help you improve.”
Caring about your team goes a long way in maintaining healthy and positive working relationships, and these ideas apply to families and friend groups as well. Set your boundaries and share your struggles to transcend unnecessary negativity and focus on positivity and productivity.
Learn more about your own interests and passions through our unique and innovative program offerings. Send a message to email@example.com to talk to a student to find out which opportunities are best for you!
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.