Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How To Collaborate Effectively With Your Colleagues

Collaborating effectively with your colleagues is key to success in the workplace, especially at new companies just starting out.  If colleagues understand how to work well together, it can help your business reach its goals more quickly and efficiently.  Positive work relationships are important for building a career and finding daily satisfaction in your job.  According to a Gallup poll, people who have friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and work effectively.  They don’t have to be your best friends but friendly relationships lead to more satisfaction in the workplace.

First off, show your colleagues respect – not just for them individually as people but for their work ethic and ideas.  Show them that you value their opinions and that you appreciate their efforts at all times.  Always keep the values of your company in mind and try to follow them.  Don’t talk down to colleagues or disrespect them.  It might sound clich√© but treat people like you would want to be treated.  Acting respectfully towards co-workers means listening to their opinions and responding in a professional manner even if you don’t agree with them.  Never raise your voice or get snippy or short with colleagues.  Control your emotions and work towards conflict resolution.  For example: If you are having a disagreement with a co-worker, take a few deep breaths before responding or agree to disagree and to discuss the issue at a later time so that you can walk away from the situation and come up with an appropriate, professional response.

Partner with your colleagues.  Learn to brainstorm and work together.  Just because people don’t always do things your way, doesn’t make them less or wrong.  Show your colleagues that you are open to their suggestions and are willing to make compromises when it comes to projects and new ideas.

Communicate with your colleagues.  Be open with them and be willing to share and listen.  Tell them what you feel is and isn’t working.  Work together with your co-workers to come up with new and innovative ideas that will help your company reach its goals.  Always put collaboration ahead of individuality.  While some projects must be worked on alone, it’s never a bad idea to ask your colleagues for input.

Compromise is also instrumental to success in the workplace.  Show your colleagues that you value their opinions and always recognize that new input from others is important.  Sometimes a colleague might have a better way of doing something and that’s important to remember.  As I said, your ways aren’t always the best ways and never lose sight of that.

Listen to your colleagues.  In order to develop positive working relationships, offer a listening ear to what your co-workers are actually saying.  Assure your colleagues that you truly understand what they mean and that you do in fact want to work together with them to help all aspects of the business you work for grow and thrive.

Give off an air of openness.  Never make your colleagues feel like they can’t come to you with new suggestions and processes.  Allow them to express their thoughts and opinions freely regarding work-related issues.  In team meetings or one-on-one sessions, co-workers should be encouraged to voice their opinions about a project and express their ideas.  Open communication is important for team building and increasing morale.  If you are a supervisor or director, it is your responsibility to establish an office culture in which employees feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Cultivate personal relationships with your colleagues.  Show an interest in their lives beyond the corporate world.  Participate in after-hours get togethers when time allows or go out to lunch with a colleague to get to know them better.  This will give you more insight into who they are as people and how their brains operate and why they act and think how they do at work.  Find opportunities to spend time with your co-workers outside of the office and your business relationship will thrive as a result.

Trust your colleagues.  Trust is the foundation of every good relationship, be it in business or in your personal life.  Work with colleagues to form a bond that helps you collaborate better and communicate more effectively.  If you trust people at work, then you can be open and honest with them in terms of your thoughts and actions.

Take responsibility for your actions.  If you mess up, never try to put the blame on one of your colleagues.  Own up to your mistakes and ensure they don’t happen again but never “back-stab” a colleague or throw them under the bus to suit your own purposes or keep a good face with your boss. Take ownership of how you work on a daily basis and where you can improve.

Welcome diversity in the workplace.  People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them.  For instance, when your friends and colleagues offer different opinions from yours, you take the time to consider what they have to say and factor their insights into your decision-making.

Develop your “people skills”  Try putting yourself in your co-workers shoes so that you can get a better understanding for how they approach their jobs daily even if it’s different than your approach.
Identify what you need from your colleagues.  Talk openly with them and express what you feel can help improve your relationship with them.  This leads to better collaboration and overall work success.  Understanding these needs can be instrumental in building better relationships.

Be positive.  Always project a good attitude overall at work.  Positivity is attractive and contagious and will help strengthen your relationships with colleagues overall.  No one wants to be around negativity all day.  Being positive boosts office morale and encourages people to work together.

Set boundaries with your colleagues.  Let them know what you feel is and isn’t proper office etiquette in the work environment.  Never overstep with your colleagues.  While it’s often beneficial to be friendly, don’t forget that you are professionals and that work comes first.

Don’t gossip or talk behind others backs.  If you have a problem with a colleague, handle it maturely and confront them directly.  Open communication is key to working effectively with your office peers.  Remember that everyone is equal and should be treated as such.

Build teamwork with your colleagues.  Remind them that they are not alone and that you are all in it together and that making your company run smoothly and reach its goals means that everyone must pitch in and bring new and fresh ideas to the table.

Lastly and most importantly, offer constructive criticism to your colleagues.  If you feel there are ways to improve overall relationships in the workplace, express them but do so in a positive way.  As I’ve mentioned, never talk down to a colleague or disrespect them.  Offer guidance and positive reinforcement.  If you see that they could be doing something in a better, more efficient way, show them that you are their advocate and are willing to help them improve in any way you possibly can.

So what have you learned here today about collaborating effectively with colleagues?  Have you used some of the suggestions I’ve offered or have you approached your colleagues in different ways to ensure that you are working well with them?  Leave a comment and let’s start a conversation.  Feedback is always welcome!

Here are some articles you might want to check out about collaborating effectively with your colleagues:

“Playing Nice: How To Collaborate Effectively With Colleagues”:

“Working Well with Your Colleagues”:

Until next time…

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