How do you initiate collaboration? (and how to improve it)

In this post, we will be discussing the different ways you can initiate collaboration. We will additionally be explaining the various types of collaboration as well as detailing the ways to improve the collaboration process. Although collaboration is similar to team-work and cooperation, it has its own special merits that make it essential in today’s workplaces.

How do you initiate collaboration?

You can initiate collaboration in your workplace by following the various steps explained below. Now, collaboration itself can take many different forms like referrals, team projects, mentoring, volunteering, etc. Once you have found a method that you connect with intimately, you initiate collaboration using the ways discussed in the list:

  • Understanding the aim of this collaboration

If you are intending to collaborate without a specific purpose, then it becomes mere interaction or just cooperation. In real and effective collaboration, there needs to be a proper aim or goal with a shared vision. It also needs a set of values and principles that you and your collaborators will be following.

Learning more about your aims and goals and outlining them clearly helps you collaborate better. This also helps you achieve them faster and more effectively. Once you have understood your aims and goals, it helps to put them in writing so that they are clear for everyone on board.

  • Choosing your collaborators

There might be lots of people in your workplace with whom you can collaborate. But in order to make the relationship effective, it is important that you choose the right person. The right person beside you can either build your collaboration up or easily tear it down. It is important to remember that collaboration requires different skill sets and personas for it to be effective.

In this step, it is essential that we leave personal biases and judgements outside and look at people with the resources that they have to offer. While selecting your team-member, look into your synchronization as well. If you are able to connect and work with someone intimately without it sapping your energy or your time, then it can lead to a productive collaboration.

  • Approaching your collaborators

Once you have understood the aims and goals you wish to achieve with this particular collaboration, you can approach your collaborators. This is of course only after carefully making a list of people you are going to collaborate with. After deciding the skill-sets and personality types you want on your team, you can approach them and pitch your idea.

Since collaboration is going to take time and effort from everyone’s part, you might have to closely discuss why this relationship will be useful for every member on the team. Be transparent and honest, discussing the pros and the cons involved in the project, while answering questions respectfully. Also be honest about the workload this is going to create while also pinpointing the advantages of it.

  • Communicating with your team

After you have approached them and gotten their approval on the task, you can move on with your collaboration plan. Follow-up with the team regularly and get them to interact with one another, building a solid relationship right from the start. In this phase, it is essential that you clear doubts and pass on the right information so that all your team-members are on the same page.

Points to be discussed can be assigning the different roles and explaining the responsibilities. In this step, you will also be choosing the right collaboration tool for your team. The right collaboration tool will help you keep track of different tasks and manage them while also giving quick access to files and information. It also will help you interact with one another instantly.

In the initial phases of this project, regular meetings may need to be conducted so that a healthy relationship is created. It helps in transparency and accountability. Regular meetings can also help you track of the team’s progress and can gradually decreased in number as time goes by.

  • Create deadlines and time-frames

Though deadlines themselves create a sense of fear and pressure in many employees, they are there to serve a purpose. Without knowing a deadline or a timeline, many team-members will find it hard to manage tasks and projects. Thus, their efficiency and productivity might fall. Creating an understandable timeline with everyone’s agreement might make the project more personal for the team members.

  • Be flexible in your approach

Though you might have a solid strategy with a solid goal in mind, things might not always go according to plan. Even with the right people working efficiently together, things can go wrong. Also, your goals and aims might change over time. Being flexible and adaptive in your approach helps you negotiate these sharp corners.

Being flexible doesn’t only apply to the plans, but also to people. Since human resources cannot always be black and white, problems and challenges can arise, both in the workplace and personal lives as well. As the plan moves on and you understand what’s working and what’s not, a flexible mindset can help you achieve your goals at a faster and better rate.

  • Recognize accomplishments

Once the deadline has been reached and the target achieved, celebrating the success of your team-members is an important step. Recognizing and celebrating accomplishments are great reinforcements. It also helps your team-members be more willing to collaborate with you in the future.

Many leaders make the mistake of not rewarding or celebrating when things don’t go according to plan. But it is the process that matters and not always the results. Even if the plan hasn’t worked and the goals have not been achieved, be sure to recognize the personal accomplishments of each member. Celebrate their small successes while also sharing the knowledge you have gained in the process.

Types of collaboration in the workplace

With many organizations quoting collaboration as an essential skill, it is important to know its different types in the workplace.

While choosing the type you want to implement, you need to remember the aims or goals you are trying to achieve. Understanding the personality types and the culture of the organization can also be a good starting point.

  • Cross-functional collaboration between different departments

Since, collaboration aims at bringing people of different skill-sets to work towards a common goal, this is a great method to achieve inter-departmental collaboration. While creating collaborative teams, many organizations try to bring people from various functions to increase the learning, critical thinking and knowledge sharing between the members. Members who play different roles in the organization with varying responsibilities like customer service, IT, or management can be brought together as a collaborative team for a greater cause.

  • Cross-cultural collaboration between diversities

This involves bringing people from different cultures and backgrounds together as a collaborative team. This is important especially in global companies where employees and teams may be placed in different locations. However, this can only happen effectively when there is an environment of non-judgement, empathy and understanding.

While collaborating with people of different backgrounds, it is essential to understand the strengths and perspectives their experiences bring. This will help the organization to come up with creative and innovative ideas, thus making the collaboration a positive one.

  • Digital collaboration for remote-workers

Since remote working is becoming more and more common, digital or virtual collaboration has also gained its importance in workplaces. Though it may seem difficult to collaborate virtually, there are plenty of digital collaboration tools that companies can use. Applications like Slack, Google Docs, Skype, etc. can be used by organizations not only for collaboration, but also for task and project management.

  • Open-collaboration for diverse options

Open-collaboration happens when people are openly invited to voice their opinions or tackle a specific problem. They can be both people from inside the organization or those outside the organization. This helps more ideas and opinions to be generated for the organization.

  • Closed-collaboration for unique problems

When organizations need to work on a specific issue, they would choose closed-collaboration. Closed-collaboration is when a specific skill-set or expertise is required. In this type of collaboration, the number of people in the team tends to be a lot smaller than that in an open-collaboration.

Improving the collaboration process

Once you have initiated the process of collaboration, you can always implement different ways to improve the collaboration process. A few of them are explained below:

  • Setting clear goals

When a goal is clarified and understood, it will be worked on in a better manner. Setting clear individual and team goals ensures better productivity. This also eliminates miscommunication and misunderstandings.

  • Working together

Sometimes teams may interact well, but not exactly work well together. This happens when there is no proper communication and access to information. For effective collaboration to occur, ensure that everyone is on the same page, whether it be in setting goals, completing tasks and making decisions.

  • Being open and transparent

When you are open with your team about processes as well as decision making, it leads to better trust and productivity. Being more transparent with your team members inspires honesty and accountability.


In this post, we have discussed the different ways you can initiate collaboration. We have also explained the various types of collaboration as well as the ways to improve the collaboration process.

Frequently asked questions

How do you convince someone to collaborate with you?

If you are looking for ways to convince someone to collaborate with you, you can use the following methods:

  • Find the right connections with whom you can collaborate. They can be people having the required skill-sets or personality types that you need.
  • Learn more about the subject your project is going to cover. When you are trying to initiate collaboration for a certain topic, your members will need to find you trusting and reliable. This can happen only when you are well-versed in the subject.
  • Be ready to do a lot of the work. Though collaboration means splitting the workload equally and responsibly, as the person who is initiating the collaboration there is going to be a lot of extra work that you might need to do.

What are the six collaborative behaviors?

The six different types of collaborative behaviors are:

  • Communication skills
  • Organization and planning skills
  • Ability to adapt to different situations
  • Thinking ahead
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Being open-minded and impartial

What is effective collaboration?

Effective collaboration happens when two or more people come together and work towards a common goal. For effective collaboration to happen, there must be clear communication, set goals along with shared vision and values. This helps in improving the motivation levels ultimately leading to better productivity.

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