Fresh Collaboration

When you start working with someone new there are ways to make the fresh collaboration super effective. As Rebecca Zucker writes in HBR, before starting a new project, step back and get to know each other a little better.

The way we collaborate can foster creativity and innovation but it also has potential to slow progress with meetings and communication required to keep everyone on the same page.

In 2014 a Stanford study found that working together boosted intrinsic motivation, with participants persisting up to 64% longer on challenging tasks. 

“Working with others affords enormous social and personal benefits”

Gregory Walton, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford 2014

The process of collaboration can lead to overload as Cross, Rebele and Grant wrote in 2016. “At many companies, people spend around 80% of their time in meetings or answering colleagues’ requests, leaving little time for all the critical work they must complete on their own. What’s more, research the authors have done across more than 300 organizations shows that the apportionment of collaborative work is often extremely lopsided. In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees. The avalanche of demands for input or advice, access to resources, or sometimes just presence in a meeting causes performance to suffer. Employees take assignments home, and soon burnout and turnover become real risks.”

Here are five questions from Zucker that will help better understand your collaborator.

The Questions

  1. What are our goals and process for this project? It is important that both parties understand and agree what success looks like.
  2. Who will do what and by when? Clarity of responsibilities ensure effective workplace collaboration. It also helps to balance the workload and make the team stronger.
  3. What are our individual preferred working styles and strengths? Individual differences of style can create diversity of thinking, productivity and innovation. However in order to achieve this all parties must respect the others way of working.
  4. When and how will we provide each other feedback on our working relationship? When you put structure around the way feedback should be provided it is much more likely to be constructive for the team.
  5. What do we need from each other to do our best work? We all have preferences in the way we work. We all balance work and personal lives. When your fresh collaboration partner understands what goes on in your world they can best adapt to be effective.

Key Takeaways

  • Starting a fresh collaboration requires you to introduce and get to know how your partner or team work together. Learn each others preferences, strengths and experiences.
  • Establishing basic ground rules at the start mean you can provide each other feedback and build trusted relationships.
  • Fresh collaboration should frame success for the team.
DIGEST of an article from Harvard Business Review
Collaborating with Someone You Don't Really Know
By Rebecca Zucker
Published: 16th December 2020

and from Harvard Business Review
Collaborative Overload
By Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant
Published: January 2016

and Stanford News
Stanford research shows that working together boosts motivation
By Clifton B. Parker
Published 15th September 2014

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