How to collaborate, learn and motivate others to work with you.

how to collaborate

Businesses cannot survive or be successful unless their teams collaborate.  Entrepreneurs and business leaders know that.  For that reason, they are seeking to hire candidates with collaboration skills.  Learning how to collaborate and motivate others to work with you is then a critical skill to develop. Also, many of them are working on being examples of how to collaborate.

Learn how to collaborate, start with this.

People are more receptive to work with you when they feel valued.  Therefore, the first step for collaboration is to build connections.  You don’t have to be friends with the people you are working with.  However, cultivating personal connections, help to improve teamwork.  Take time to know the person, their interests, pain points, concerns, and what they value.    All that information will help you with two things.  

First, you would be able to identify who’s who in the workplace.  For example, you will see who you can influence, who can influence others, who are eager to learn and do new things, or not.  Also, you will know with whom you need to invest more time and effort to motivate.

Second, while you learn their pain points and interests, you will identify the best fit for future projects.  People are willing to participate in activities where they see some value for themselves.  Therefore, you are connecting with them and knowing who can help you in the future.

Guide for effective collaboration

When you are presenting an idea or a new initiative, be clear about it.  Above all, be honest, talk about the challenges, benefits, and risks.  Most importantly, answer the question, what’s in it for me?  Learning how to convey your suggestion or solution is critical.  The process consists of alternating between talking and listening.

Allow people to digest the information, give them time to ask questions, and present their views. Before you try to convince people to change their mind, take time to listen.  Use active listening to understand, not to criticize.  You would be able to influence people if they feel that you are genuinely trying to understand them. Show that you value their opinion.  

Do not interrupt, but when you have a chance, ask open-ended questions.  With them, people are prompt to give more details.  Finally, enhance their propositions, try to build upon other people’s ideas.  

How you learn to collaborate

You can learn how to collaborate by watching how others do it and practicing yourself.  When you practice how to collaborate, you will find the challenges associated with it.  For instance, you will feel how difficult it is to concentrate on what other people are saying.  Shut off your thoughts and focus on somebody else’s words is not easy.

Sometimes, it is easy to feel anxious and try to convince people that they are wrong.  But, when you feel that urgency, it is time to breathe and listen.  Listen to what others have to say with the intention of understanding and not judging.  Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes helps to grasp their feelings and emotions.  Therefore, you will gain a better understanding of their whys.

Regardless of your experience, your idea may not be the best.  Collaboration is the simple act that makes teams effective.  It is also a tool to boost creativity and respectful debates that will prompt better ideas.  With effective collaboration, people will feel motivated to participate and support your initiatives.  

Collaboration and continuous improvement

collaboration and continuous improvement

Collaboration is when two or more people work together toward shared goals.  It is the vehicle that conveys the success of a business. Also, it is what makes possible a successful culture transformation from traditional to continuous improvement.  Being so crucial, you would expect entrepreneurs and c-suite leadership to treat it with the criticality it deserves.  Like most things in life, you can learn how to collaborate.  Therefore, this skill should be part of what you model and teach to your team.  

There are two pieces of this story.  One is how you motivate colleagues to support your ideas, and the other is how to teach collaboration.  Let me tackle the first one today and the second on my next post.

Learning collaboration

I started my career working in a research & development department.  The department would be successful, only if it works in collaboration with everybody else.  For that reason, since day one, my boss makes a point of teaching me how to do it.  Moreover, she modeled the behavior.

Present your ideas and listen 

The first step is to communicate your initiative or ideas with clarity.  Clear and effective communication minimizes confusion.  Be honest about your intentions and present them subjectively.  In other words, talk about the benefits, challenges, and risks. Present the facts, show data if you have it.

Secondly, let people express their concerns.  While they talk, you should listen.  Active listening occurs when you suppress the need to dominate the conversation or provide ways to solve problems.  Instead, you listen and focus on the speaker.  Notice the speaker’s body language, tone, and emotions while it speaks.  Understanding how he/she feels helps to recognize the implications of the words.  As a result, the communication would flow better.  

For better collaboration, assume positive intent and switch between being a leader and a follower. 

Further, practice positive intent.  Assume that people want to do the right thing.  That they are as invested in the company success as you are.  It is easier to be receptive when you come into a discussion with that positive thought.    

When you are a leader, regardless of rank or title, you are used to making decisions and give orders. Accept criticism is not easy, especially if it comes from your team or colleagues.  But for successful collaboration, you need to learn how to accept feedback.  Sometimes you have to listen and follow, while others you talk and lead.  

Nevertheless, for the team is not easy to receive feedback either.   Clear and effective communication is essential for accepting criticism.  Explain why feedback is important.  If you notice aversion, ask why and address the situation.  While giving feedback, be specific and direct.  For instance, provide examples.


Leadership support and modeling of those behaviors that enable collaboration are vital for its success.  If leaders are not capable or willing to collaborate, their teams will not do it either.  To promote team collaboration, leaders should practice mentoring and coaching.  Also, collaboration as a skill should be a key part of some human resources activities.  Some of those activities are hiring, promotions, and selection for further training.  

Anywhere more than one person works, the collaboration will be imperative to achieve desired results.  Therefore, modeling and enforcing it will be a crucial part of the continuous improvement transformation.  The way each team member reacts while working together is also critical.    But that is the subject of the next post.