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Collaboration Skills: Definition, Examples, and Guide

by: Tanta Noramon
Collaboration Skills: Definition, Examples, and Guide

Collaboration often refers to two or more people joining forces to work together toward a common goal. It’s cooperation between individuals to achieve a specific goal or to create something new. In the workplace, collaboration is a growing trend that aims to boost employee productivity and output. However, it’s much more than pulling your weight on a joint task or group project. This takes some effort to ensure a smooth and successful outcome, no matter the task or project. 

What are collaboration skills?

Everyone likes to put the phrase “I’m a team player” on their resume.  However, when placed in a team-centered environment, it can take some time to adjust, especially when you tend to work alone. Teams are people who come from different backgrounds, varying levels of ability, and a myriad of personalities and opinions. With such diversity, companies have a large pool of skilled workers who can do great things but can shine even more if they work together. Therefore, it’s important to foster collaboration skills and encourage teamwork to empower a more efficient staff who share the same goals and company vision.

Collaboration skills are a combination of hard and soft skills such as proficiency in technology, expertise in a field of study, or other learned skills, behaviors, and interpersonal or social interactions. This makes quite an expansive list of attributes that are all useful for progress, management, and completion of work projects. Collaboration skills can be direct (face to face contact, communication, emotional intelligence) or indirect (organization, adaptability). Teams use a combination of direct and indirect collaboration skills daily.

Examples of core collaboration skills:

  • communication skills (written, verbal, non-verbal, listening)
  • skill-sharing
  • tolerance
  • patience
  • empathy
  • active listening skills
  • conflict resolution
  • open-mindedness
  • emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • organizational skills
  • critical thinking skills
  • accountability
  • leadership
  • responsibility
  • adaptability
  • experience in productivity systems such as Agile
  • time management
  • dependability
  • diplomacy
  • expertise

Benefits of team collaboration

Collaboration in the workplace has many benefits.  Not only does it help or improve the way that teams work together but it also develops and nurtures personal growth in each individual. You can expect a team that collaborates well to be more innovative, better at problem-solving and brainstorming, and communication. This can have a positive effect on productivity and the quality of work output. In cases where teams are remote, team collaboration is an asset that maintains a high standard of employee relationships and goal achievement as it pertains to the overall company project goals, vision, or plans.  

Teams that work together are also less stressed, happier, and thus more motivated to perform at a greater standard which makes each more efficient in their role. Employees perform better as part of a team rather than managing a project alone. Team collaboration fosters growth, pools expertise and skills to achieve greater success.

Five tips for effective collaboration

It’s ok to over-communicate (when the alternative is nothing at all)

Communication is more than just making sure everyone is well informed of their tasks and duties. It plays a large role in building trust between team members and keeping everyone on the same page. Team members must be able to talk to each other, discuss the work, give updates or feedback on delegated tasks, deadlines, news, and other issues that pertain to the project. Communication also helps to develop camaraderie amongst teams so that they learn to get along on a personal basis and even develop friendships. Frequent team meetings, the use of collaborative software, virtual communication with remote members, memos, emails and instant messaging are all important components of effective communication, data sharing, and team interaction. It may seem like a lot but it’s better to over-communicate than to have inadequate communication that creates uncertainty or confusion.

Be willing to accept change

An adaptable team is a force to be reckoned with. Changes may occur at crucial times during a project. Many variables are prone to change. These may include issues like budget cuts, problems with the supply of resources, or stakeholders for example. It’s then up to the team to adapt to the change in plans and be willing to work together to make the best out of any situation that affects the original plan, timeline, or project as a whole. Conflict resolution, problem-solving, brainstorming and critical thinking are collaborative skills that help a great deal when faced with change.

Practice accountability

Everyone on a team has a role and duty to perform to ensure a smooth workflow. Team members need to be accountable for all their actions and own up to any shortcomings which may affect production. Taking responsibility for missing a deadline or making a mistake not only builds respect amongst team members but also creates an environment that prevents throwing anyone under a bus. The presence of clearly defined roles and responsibilities also helps with accountability so that everyone know what management expects from them.

Foster creativity

An upside to having a diverse workforce is the creativity that stems from brainstorming and debates. Team meetings should be an avenue to bounce ideas off each other, give constructive feedback and opinions in a clear, respectful manner. The beauty of teamwork is that you never have to be alone in figuring out a problem and getting different perspectives to help you understand a problem, improve aspects of the project or come up with a solution to resolve any challenges.

Celebrate and recognize success

Team motivation builds confidence and values everyone’s contributions. Positive reinforcement when a team member does a good job encourages them to keep up the good work. When teams complete major tasks they recognize milestones and congratulate each other to keep the momentum going for the next task ahead. It also helps to identify everyone’s strengths and how to complement each other’s skills to be more efficient. 

Nurturing collaborative skills makes a positive difference when running a project. Encouraging your workforce to have a team-centered approach can be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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