Social Media has played a signficant role in facilitating collaboration through interaction, sharing information and soliciting feedback through public forums. Younger generations growing up with social media and the internet have become accustomed to collaborating through groups to accomplish tasks. This behaviour has now become a norm which has carried over to the workplace.
As organizations expand into global markets and new generations enter the workforce (think of Millennials) working virtually, in a collaborative way, is now a requirement to stay competitive.
Many organizations have adopted collaboration tools, to provide the technology for active participation. The shift to virtual working through collaboration is not without its own challenges. Think about cultural differences, time differences, languages, geographies; and how to bring all of those together in a productive way. At the heart of collaboration lies relationship building and trust. Both of which are not easily accomplished without putting some effort into it. Even through technology may be used to virtually interact, the communication and interpersonal skills to facilitate collaboration may still need to be cultivated. Take the time to invest in building your skills to get the most out of your virtual work experience.
Here are a few things to consider when collaborating virtually:
- Be open-minded: Working in groups can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Listening to and/or reading various perspectives, approaches and ideas can increase your knowledge and expand your own thinking. Group experiences are most gratifying if you keep an open mind to other people’s contribution and ideas. The goal is to work together to achieve a common objective. The more people feel “safe” to share their ideas and perspectives, the more interesting and genuine the contributions will be. It creates a positive, innovative environment where people can appreciate other viewpoints.
- Share Information: Have you read an article that you think may be beneficial to someone else? Are you working on a project where you could use someone else’s expertise? Share information with those who may benefit from it. Once you share, you will notice that your colleagues will in turn start to share with you. You may also start getting invited to other meetings where you can share your expertise and perspectives.
- Participate in the conversation: What makes group projects so successful are the ideas and perspectives that each person brings to the table. When you’re at the table participate in the conversation. If you’re using a technology platform provide updates and suggestions to contributions that will enhance the virtual conversation. This allows you to showcase your skills and knowledge and learn from others at the same time.
- Be Respectful: When participating virtually be respectful of other people’s ideas and suggestions. Even if you don’t agree with something avoid writing comments such as “that won’t work” or “that doesn’t make sense”. Dismissive comments may curb collaboration rather than encourage it. Instead help direct the conversation to address your concern. As an alternative try, “What might be some of the risks or constraints we may need to consider”?
These are just a few suggestions to consider when working collaboratively. Are there some recommendations you want to share?
By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy