Hello SOTGC community,
How many times have you said or had someone say to you, “Hey! We should work on something together?” It’s usually something blurted out in the middle of a highly energetic conversation (or cocktails) and sounds like a GREAT idea at the time. But how many times do those conversations eventually stir up thoughts like, “Oh, wow. What was I thinking?”
Sometimes it’s the wrong person, sometimes it’s the wrong idea, and sometimes it’s you. Yes, you.
Here are 10 Do’s (and Don’ts) of collaborating:
1. DO be clear on your expectations upfront. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about situations where projects fell apart because “someone” didn’t follow through. It’s usually followed by, “And then they acted like they had no idea what I was talking about. How could they not know? I mean, it’s obvious.” (Obviously it wasn’t.)
DON’T make assumptions. I know. It sounds obvious. But apparently, it’s not because I’m listing it as #1.
2. DO show up on time and, for the love of God, please be prepared. When you show up for a meeting or call and say, “Oh, I’ve been so busy since the last time we spoke, I haven’t even had time to look at it,” comments like this don’t make you sound like you’re super busy. They make you sound like a super jackhole.
DON’T assume because you’re working with someone that you’re friends. If this is a work situation, be professional. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but let’s be honest. If you show up 10 – 15 minutes late because you thought, “It’s okay. It’s just so and so.” Well, it’s not.
3. DON’T be a doormat or allow someone else to undermine you. Are you feeling like someone else is getting (or taking) the credit while you do the work? Make a choice or make a change. Speak up so you can be heard, and if that doesn’t work, or you know it’s not working, then make a decision to move on. Staying in a miserable situation serves no one – including the people you’ve been calling so you can vent.
DO give more than you get. Be willing to go the extra mile and do it. You may be surprised at what you learn and what other opportunities come from it.
4. DO respect confidentiality. When I collaborate with people, it’s natural for a relationship to develop where we share success stories and life/business lessons. Nothing turns me off faster than finding out someone was sharing a private conversation with another colleague, competitor, or using it as a topic for a blog post.
DON’T run around and tell everyone what you’re working on or what you discussed in your meetings unless you have permission to do so. And, if you do, keep in mind that it doesn’t reflect negatively on the other person, it reflects negatively on you.
5. DO give credit, even if it was initially your idea. After all, the other person may have been more instrumental in sparking your brilliance than you even realize.
DON’T let your ego get in the way of your success. (Speaking of giving and taking credit.) It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of what you’ve created. But remember, this is a collaboration – meaning there’s more than one person involved here. AND, it’s not about you or the others involved in collaborating. It’s about the work, your message, and, above all, your customer.
6. DO take responsibility. Before you give your best Uncle Sam gesture, make sure you’re pointing in the right direction. Sometimes we’re quick to place blame but not so quick to look at how we may have contributed to the situation.
DON’T look for a way to blame others. Finger pointing is not only unproductive, it’s unattractive. (I’d say it causes wrinkles if it got you to pay attention.) This doesn’t mean you don’t hold people accountable, but make sure you’re holding the right person accountable. If you mess up, own it. We all make mistakes. Use it as an opportunity to learn and then move on.
7. DO communicate – early and often. Have something difficult to say or hard news to deliver? Say it in a way you would want someone to deliver hard or difficult news to you.
DON’T bite your tongue. How many times have we wanted to say what we really think, but we don’t because we hope it will pass or we think, “I’m afraid of what I might say” (which is often code for, “I’m really afraid of saying anything at all because I don’t want to look like a jerk.”) But, here’s the thing, when you don’t say anything, and you let it fester, by the time you do say something, you do look like a jerk because now you’re mad and probably reacting with emotion.
8. DO have fun! After all, what’s the point of collaborating if you don’t enjoy it?
DON’T take it all so seriously. Use this as a platform to learn about yourself and others while you do some really good (and profitable) work together. Do you want to look back and say, “That was so much fun?” Or, “That was a nightmare!
9. DO treat people with respect, compassion, and professionalism. Treat people the way you want to be treated and be sincere.
DON’T be Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. (If you’re wondering, it’s the role Meryl Streep played in the movie. Yes, THAT one.) You may have the very best of intentions, but think before you speak and consider your delivery. Using terms of endearment, being patronizing, or showing people you’re better or know better isn’t helpful. It’s annoying and makes you look like a jerk. Knock it off.
10. DO make sure you’re collaborating with the right people. Pay attention to how people behave before you commit to working on something together. Notice how they treat you, others, and what other people are saying about them. (Hello Social Media!)
DON’T jump in with both feet. Would you marry someone without dating first? Okay, maybe some of you would. In which case, I apologize … if you’re still married.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your #1 Do and Don’t when it comes to collaborating? Share it in the comments below or try one of the above and let us know your results.