Celebrate Collaborator Differences

Collaboration can be combustible!

There is a magical thing that happens when you pair yourself with others, but how to find the right teammates? It’s tempting to want to work with someone similar to you, but why not look for someone with a different skill set than yours?

I have been working with two amazing collaborators in different companies this month – both hold internal roles and both have skills that are very different from mine. One of them comes from a Lean background so she is super tactical and routinized. Who knew that would be a perfect match for my ideation and strategy skills? The other is a natural innovator, but doesn’t often get the opportunity to unleash her creative genius.

Both of these collaborations required a little fancy footwork to get our dance steps in sync, but clarifying our team norms (how we wanted to work together) helped make it possible for us to end up dancing with the stars ;-)

Here are some norms that helped us:

1.  Mutual Respect

When you start from a place of respect and curiosity about your teammates’ skill set, you reap the benefits from it. Ask your partner to tell you about a perfect past collaboration and how it helped them to fine tune their dynamic delivery for winning results.

2.  Clear Communication

Sometimes you can brainstorm a bazillion ideas, but if they aren’t fully understood they get easily rejected, or dismissed too early. That can lead to one or the other of you feeling undervalued and creates a kind of unnecessary tension between you. By upping your curiosity and asking a few more questions, you can find some common ground and then begin to choose which of the ideas will work for your desired outcomes.

3.  Make it Fun

The best collaborations are fun. So why not start with fun as your main objective. Bring in a few props to kick it off, ask people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, and celebrate small wins with coffee runs, sun breaks and weird toys for rewards.

Verbally appreciate your collaborators – this helps keep it fun.

We spend such an amazing amount of time working with other people. How we work with them is completely up to how we form those relationship. This week, why not focus on appreciating the differences in the people around you and leveraging each of your strengths to make the experience more amazing? Celebrate the Creative Geniuses around you!


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