7 Strategies To Build Collaborative Relationships
Perhaps, one of the positive outcomes of this pandemic has been the fact that many more organisations have begun to realise that effective collaboration is imperative for long-term success.
In a crisis situation, it becomes even more important that organizations pull together experts with unique, cross-functional perspectives to solve rapidly changing, complex problems that have long-term implications. The diversity of experience allows a group to see risks and opportunities from different angles so that it can generate new solutions and adapt dynamically to changing situations.
However, there is a flip side to this, as the crisis can create anxiety that can make leaders more risk-averse. As a result, they are less likely to seek out differing perspectives and tend to fall back on actions and solutions that have worked in the past. The desire to try to bring things under control can also lead to a go-it-alone mentality. And as resources (finances, job opportunities, even physical supplies) dry up focus turns to self-preservation. As a result, collaboration across an organization can break down.
So what is collaboration and how do we build effective collaborative relationships?
Collaboration is all about working together. Author and Relationship expert, Gaye Hendrick describes collaboration as: “a working practice where individuals work together for a common purpose.” And he goes on to say that: “When collaboration is great whether it’s business or personal, it’s almost the best thing you can do with the lights on!. However, when collaboration goes badly… the results are disastrous.”
Traditional business practices worked on the premise that there was not enough to go round, so healthy competition was considered the norm. Ideas such as “beat your competition” or “step on your competition” were considered traditional business activities.
However nowadays, business is much more about embracing the true concept of collaboration which is working together so that the result is bigger than the sum of the constituent parts.
Building effective collaborative relationships is a key element in helping any business scale to the next level as it enables you to leverage your time, energy, money, and resources and if done well can bring unexpected benefits. However, when done incorrectly it can have dire consequences and result in broken relationships, loss of income, and in the worst cases bankruptcy.
I’ve always loved collaborating with others on projects and over the years have learnt what works and what doesn’t. Here are my 7 strategies that I always use to help me build collaborative relationships.
- Start With The End in Mind– being clear on what you would like to accomplish opens the opportunity for you to seek out the right resources and collaboration partners who can help you achieve this. Ensure that these partners are aligned with your values or else a cultural mismatch could result which could provide very costly at a later date.
- Be Open To New Opportunities– when people collaborate a new energy is created which is bigger than the sum of the parts. New ideas flow which can result in projects way bigger than what you initially envisaged.
- Share a Common Vision– both parties must essential have a shared vision for the project. When the project vision’s diverge then one party will usually become disgruntled which doesn’t make for an effective working relationship.
- Be Clear On Roles and Responsibilities – knowing what you are committing to in the collaboration is key. Work to your strengths and have clear action plans so everyone knows what they are doing by when. Recognise that others work in a different way from you and be flexible to accommodate other working practices
- Lay Out The Ground Rules– having clarity over the ground rules such as time and money commitments is paramount. This needs to be done upfront or else it creates animosity at a later stage when confusion emerges about how profits are to be split. Never assume that because you are collaborating everything is being shared 50:50!!!
- Communicate Clearly– being able to express your feelings, doubts and concerns is healthy in any relationship and collaborative relationships are no different. Each party must feel able to say what is on their mind. Always listen carefully to what your collaborative partner doesn’t say as this is where you might find the real gold in your conversations.
- Collaborate With People You Like – there are so many collaborative opportunities out there so please make sure you choose a collaborative partner that you like and can have fun working with. The energy dynamic needs to be positive and engaging to attract clients and if it isn’t then success will be much harder. After all, typically we are engaging in a collaboration to leverage resources and so make work more effortless, not harder.
I’d love to hear what strategies you are using to build effective collaborative relationships?