How to make sure your collaboration efforts work

How to make sure your collaboration efforts work

Clear goals and the right mix of engaged people will take you a long way

The reality we’re constantly facing today is that we can no longer rely on ourselves alone to drive our business or careers. Speed has become the top priority for many businesses to ensure survival during this time of uncertainty. But doing things on our own cannot guarantee they’ll get done faster.

With speed in mind, effective collaboration becomes more and more important in ensuring our business can survive and will thrive. In a previous article, we discussed the importance of collaboration, especially today. Alone, we know we cannot scale up productivity and growth as quickly as we want to. But with the combined expertise of other people, we can drive productivity and growth faster.

So, how do we begin collaborating and how do we truly know whether our efforts will have a positive impact on our business? Here is a checklist to help kickstart your collaboration efforts.

First, become more aware. Understanding yourself, the people around you and the situation is a key starting point. Without awareness, we cannot know what steps to take to ensure we will produce the results we want. It’s first important to understand your style of leading or working, while keeping in mind your strengths, weaknesses, and the challenges you and your team are facing.

The outward mindset, a concept developed by the Arbinger Institute, emphasises self-awareness as the stepping-stone to greater teamwork and collaboration. Without connecting with our inner self, we cannot achieve the results we desire externally.

Second, clarify goals, objectives, timelines and even potential challenges, and keep communications open. This stage is all about clarifying the direction and potential obstacles in the way. This helps everyone in the team and the organisation to be on the same page as to what, how and when to achieve the communicated goals.

If organisations aren’t clear on the direction, this can confuse people. In fact, according to a study by ClearCompany, only 5.9% of companies communicate their goals daily. Because of this, people aren’t going to be following the same direction, causing collaboration efforts to fail.

Third, ensure you have capable leaders and diverse team members. In a previous article, I emphasised that leaders don’t necessarily have leadership capabilities, while those with strong leadership capabilities don’t necessarily hold leadership positions. We need to ensure that our leaders do have strong leadership capabilities, and that team members with leadership capabilities have a diverse range of skills.

This list of capabilities and skills can be different in each team, business and organisation, but it mainly will consist of essential skills such as mindset, negotiation, people skills, and a couple of specialised skills such as research, digital marketing, and sales.

Fourth, engage the people in the organisation. Findings from Gallup reveal that highly engaged teams benefit the business in many ways, with one of the results pointing to an increase of profitability of up to 21%. While engagement contributes to better employee retention, it also drives each person to work with passion.

Given those findings, it can also be added that highly engaged people in the organisation are more willing to work together. The sense of belonging is part of being engaged with the company to drive results together.

Fifth, you need the ability to manage crisis and conflict. The reality is that we will always face challenges no matter what. Problems arise during any collaboration effort and the longer they persist, the more intense they can get.

Having a strong ability to manage crisis and conflict is important if we want to ensure our organisation’s collaboration efforts are effective. This can also strengthen the bonds between the people in the organisation, further encouraging effective collaboration.

Sixth, integrate technology and ensure digital capabilities for both leaders and teams. In today’s environment, many organisations are still allowing their people to work remotely. Because of this, we may require more technology and digital capabilities to collaborate.

There are many tools available today, but the tough part is picking that right one that works for both your people and for your customers and potential brand collaborators.

Finally, measure the efforts. While this may differ depending on the team and organisation, measurement efforts can begin with seeing the results that come from the collaboration. This could be reflected in terms of KPI or even the overall team or workplace environment.

If your collaboration effort has succeeded, take note of the elements that worked well so that you can incorporate them into other projects. If it didn’t succeed, look at the checklist once more and see what elements need more work.

This checklist is not meant to be a formula for successful collaboration. Consider it more of a guide in understanding the elements that need to be prioritised when collaborating. Collaboration isn’t about one leader tells all — it is about working together to drive results together.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at

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