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Methods to Develop Your Workplace Collaboration Skills

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Back in high school or college, were you the one who always did most of the work on a group project and then wondered why the teacher didn't let you do it yourself from the start? Your teachers did not force you to participate in groups to frustrate you. They aimed to teach you a crucial skill: the ability to work together.

These people skills can be invaluable in the office, where workplace collaboration is an increasingly important part of the work for many creative professionals. Workplace collaboration is diverse and includes a range of skills such as clear communication, problem solving, empathy and responsibility. Collaboration is an important soft skill for any creative professional. Projects involving design, marketing and user experience, for example, often require teamwork in teams and across departments. Cross-departmental initiatives can have their own challenges, as teams can have different priorities, skills and personalities.

In a survey of more than 400 advertising and marketing executives conducted by The Creative Group, 37 percent of respondents said that goal and priority conflicts are the biggest obstacles to cross-departmental collaboration.

The following five tips can help you develop your workplace collaboration skills:

Work on projects outside your comfort zone

Taking on projects that do not fall within your area of expertise forces you to rely on the expertise of others. For example, if you focus mainly on web design and have the opportunity to help with the implementation of a new project management system, take advantage of the opportunity to offer your creative expertise while learning from colleagues in other departments such as media services, IT and education.

Communicate clearly

It is important that your answers are clear and timely when you work with someone, but especially when you work with other departments. You may not know the keywords or acronyms that you and your teammates use. When we asked creative professionals what behavior in online business communication most disturbs them, the first response was failure or slowness in answering, followed by poor grammar and spelling and the use of acronyms and keywords. (See the infographics below for the complete survey results).

Find a mentor

Some organizations offer formal mentoring programs. Even if yours does not, you can ask a colleague with strong cooperation skills to mentor you. A mentoring relationship does not have to require a large commitment of time. It could be as simple as having lunch together once or twice a month.

Another option is to enroll in a course at a local university or attend seminars that focus on promoting cooperation and teamwork. Many courses and webinars are also available online.

Join industry groups

Industry associations are excellent resources for the professional development of hard and soft skills. For example, volunteering on a committee can be a great way to expand your network while improving your ability to collaborate outside the office.

Participate in team building activities

Sure, it may seem silly to spend 15 minutes untangling a human knot, but the time spent working with a group towards the same goal helps to strengthen the ability to work together. If your organization does not offer team-building activities during exams or meetings, you could suggest this idea to your supervisor. These activities can improve office communication by promoting morale and connection between colleagues.

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Wait, there's more!

There are several other things that will help you improve your workplace collaboration skills. For example, recognize when colleagues have expertise in certain areas and ask them for their opinion. Also use your expertise to help others, even if it doesn't seem to be of direct benefit to you.

If you work with a team, also put the needs of the group above your own. If you work together on cross-departmental projects, pay particular attention to different perspectives and knowledge bases. For example, if you work in the marketing department of a nonprofit organization, you may need to coordinate with the development department on grants and fundraising campaigns.

Finally, share your ideas, but also listen to the contributions of others. Recognize when someone else has an idea stronger than your own and support it, making sure you give credit where credit is due. Your efforts will go a long way toward building strong collaboration in the workplace.

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