What is collaboration? The first thing that may come to mind is “teamwork”, but they are two different things. Teamwork is the ability to effectively work with others in a group to produce a common goal. Collaboration can be defined as working effectively with others in the organization outside the line of formal authority (such as peers in other units or senior management) to accomplish organizational goals and to identify and solve problems. In other words, collaboration is not working with your own team, pod or usual group of coworkers, but with an outside set of peers whose job goes hand in hand with yours. For example, Sourcers working with Recruiters; they do not have the same position or necessarily work together, but one’s successes can depend on the other.
As such, the competencies needed to be an accomplished collaborator differ from those of being a good teammate. Often in times of collaboration, one may need to provide services to another group without sufficient amount of knowledge or experience on the problem at hand. A good collaborator will adapt to his/her surroundings, ask appropriate and time-staking questions to get the proper information needed to help, and go from there. They will not use inexperience as an excuse to stay out. On the other side of things, a good collaborator must also be able to give simple yet defined information to someone on the outside in an efficient manner. Collaboration goes both ways.
We’ve all been in situations when the same set of eyes and ears have been dealing with a problem, and something just isn’t working. Maybe the solution is to pull someone from an outside party for a different perspective on the matter. A good collaborator will not hesitate to ask for help outside their own group, even if other members are not thrilled. Some people see this is a sign of weakness and are afraid to ask for help in fear of looking unqualified. However, in my experience, senior managers enjoy being pulled in for their expertise. They know a lot and are (usually) happy to share their knowledge any way they can. Moreover, they would rather help find the solution to a problem than have no solution at all, as it can obviously reflect on them, too.
When success of the business is on the line, why delay in collaboration? A successful collaborator understands the value of collaboration. As stated earlier, this person is not afraid of asking for help and giving help if both parties can benefit from it. Any company can reap the benefits of collaboration if used effectively and appropriately. Are you a good one?