Communicate and be a team player August 2, 2011

Working together works.

Collaboration is a trait professionals practise selflessly and relentlessly. It’s the cooperative efforts of a group of people who work together to obtain a desired objective, where the needs of the group are placed above the needs of the individual. Effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments – professional people acknowledge that much can be accomplished when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.

It’s essential for all team members to understand and embrace the department and company goals, plan, vision and mission, so everyone is pulling in the same direction and “peering from the same window”.

Conflict resolution skills are helpful, but should seldom be necessary when everyone encourages team mates, openly and honestly communicate, is open to suggestions from others and gives everyone a say in decisions. Professional people know that with enthusiasm, forgiveness, humour and patience (and being aware that other people depend on them for success), they can help others to succeed and be valuable to the company.

Professional people realise that some teams may be close and work together daily, but they are also part of a greater team – all employees in the company – and that communication is essential to keep people informed of progress. We organise our work into projects, maintain business-as-usual duties ourselves and consult with others towards reaching the company goals. Professional people know working in silos is not teamwork – you can’t do your work without the work of others.

We efficiently use the tools available to manage these communications, never over-communicating, only communicating about things where others’ input is required. We use established systems to minimise chatter about business-as-usual, allowing more time for fun, creative, sexy discussions.

Professional people know that communication can be verbal and written, but also visual, body language, within systems and by interpretive dance. They are careful to ensure their communication provides actionable information; that is, the person receiving the message is clear about what they need to do next.

Teams may be formed informally (to help unload a delivery van), more formally as a department, around a specific task that has to be completed (meeting a deadline) and anywhere in between – regardless of the make-up, the same principles of collaboration and communication apply.

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