Collaboration Skills for Workplace Success

Mike Kulakov, December 18, 2020
collaboration skills for workplace success

Developing collaboration skills is a vital part of personal and professional development. Most of us can’t work in complete isolation, and that’s where collaboration skills come in. We’re here today to show you how developing collaboration skills doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s jump in and get started!

The Importance of Collaboration Skills

If you think of your company as a machine, training yourself and your employees and colleagues to be better collaborators is like making sure that the machine is well-oiled. Without effective communication and collaboration skills, mistakes can be made, projects can be delayed or driven over budget, and your company simply can’t operate as efficiently as it otherwise might do.

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

Phil Jackson

Collaboration skills are also increasingly important in our diverse and global working environment. You’ll often find yourself working with people of different backgrounds, and if you don’t have the right skills and training, you can find that things are being lost in translation or that you’re inadvertently causing offense.

If you are looking for information on how to create an effective workplace collaboration environment as a team lead, project manager, or executive, you will find this article to be extremely helpful:

why is collaboration important
How to Create a Workplace Collaboration Environment

Collaboration is a great driving force that can help your business develop and grow quickly. It’s based on establishing healthy communication among employees and results in increased productivity and better problem solving.

…As for the rest of us looking to improve our collaboration skills as team members: keep on reading!

Types of Collaboration Skills in the Workplace

Everyone has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. There are, however, some pretty universal ways for anyone to improve their collaboration skills in the following aspects:

  • Verbal Communication: Can be improved by developing the skill of speaking concisely, remembering and using people’s names, and taking into consideration factors such as your tone of voice and how loudly you’re talking.
  • Written Communication: Can be improved by paying close attention to the language you use, re-reading everything to check for errors or ambiguous meanings, and even using emoticons to clearly show humor/jokes/irony.
  • Nonverbal Communication: Can be improved by paying closer attention to body language to whether you’re supporting what you’re saying through the use of mimics and gestures (in face-to-face communication) and diagrams, images, illustrations, even emoticons (in written communication).
  • Active Listening: Can be improved by consciously paying more attention to other people when they speak to you. Most of us have a habit of approaching conversations with the goal of being heard, often thinking about what we’re going to say next when other people are talking. Instead, the goal is to listen more intently to others and to be willing to challenge your preconceptions.
  • Emotional Intelligence: This is one of the harder skills to perfect and involves being more understanding of both your own emotions and the emotions of others. You can practice it by starting to put yourself in other people’s shoes. If someone snaps at you, don’t just snap back. Perhaps they’re having a tough time at home, a daunting deadline to meet, or they didn’t get much sleep. 

We see these key collaboration skills in effect whenever teams of two or more people work together on the same project. It’s not uncommon to see two people who are exceptional individual performers who just can’t seem to get results when they work together. When this happens, it’s a breakdown in their communication and collaboration skills.

Collaboration and communication have a strong link. If, like many of us, you’re facing or witnessing more and more challenges in remote team communication, do not miss this article:

group communication cover zoom
Effective Remote Team Communication 101

Working from home is becoming the new norm. But it’s not without its challenges. Learn the techniques and methods for remote team communication that’ll keep everyone on track, in touch, and ready to meet their goals.

Collaboration Skills Examples

The ability to successfully collaborate encompasses a whole suite of skills, from interpersonal interactions to a dedication to keeping accurate timesheets and making reliable forecasts. The specific set of skills that you’ll need will vary from company to company, but just a few examples of collaboration skills in practice include:

  1. 👉 A team leader placing a project’s goals above personal satisfaction and/or recognition, stepping aside from their own ego to do what’s best for the company regardless of their own personal motivations.
  2. 👉 A team member refusing to hold a grudge or a rivalry, even when someone else is trying to draw them into a conflict.
  3. 👉 A project manager publically recognizing the contributions of his subordinates during a company-wide meeting.
  4. 👉 A company director acknowledging their missteps and forgiving others for making mistakes, encouraging them to learn from those mistakes.
  5. 👉 Fifteen team members located in different countries and time zones working together remotely on the same project through a digital collaboration hub.

Managers, team leads, and CEOs among us don’t forget that all-important annual performance review! According to one study, 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”, and yet only 18% of employees get evaluations of these skills at their performance reviews!

By simply going above and beyond in your annual reviews, you can make your company stand out from the competition and attract more team players to work with you in the first place.

The Key Team Collaboration Skill: Becoming a Team Player

Ever heard the expression “take one for the team”? There’s a lot of truth to it, because sometimes we as individuals have to make sacrifices for the overall good of the team that we belong to. If we want to get technical, we can take a look at game theory and think of business as not being a zero sum game. In other words, in most situations, multiple people can win.

“Collaboration has no hierarchy. The sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.”

Amit Ray

Sometimes, when you’re working as part of a team, you have to take on the jobs that nobody wants to do. In our society, we can’t all be movie stars and celebrities; some of us have to collect trash and work in supermarkets.

Taking one for the team doesn’t mean that you should be a pushover, though. It’s all about putting the overall good of the team ahead of any individual wants or desires, and you’ll find that when everyone is working as a team instead of as a collective of different people, the whole company does better as a result of it.

In Conclusion

Knowing why collaboration skills are important and what those skills are is only half the battle. If you don’t act upon what you’ve learned and put those skills into practice, they’re useless to you, like knowing how to drive but not having a car.

The good news is that collaboration skills are like any other skills in that they can be practiced and honed over time. Your ability to collaborate is like a muscle that grows stronger over time, and you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to exercise it!

Mike Kulakov

IT entrepreneur, executive and a former engineer. Responsible for company growth as well as the team’s motivation. Big fan of playing tennis, snowboarding, traveling, reading books, and (of course) I live and breathe our product.