How collaboration works

I’ve previously covered in a blogpost what collaboration means to me, personally, as well as within the business context. What we haven’t really covered is specifically how it works on a day-to-day basis. How do you actually collaborate successfully?

I find the words and the meanings of, collaboration, co-operation and community, overlap and merge together. Much of the work I do tends to be like this. Everyone has their own ways of working, their own versions of success and their own ways to describe things. So I often end up using different words to mean very similar things. ‘Working together’ is probably the simplest form of what I believe these 3 words mean in the context that I use them. Although Community takes on it’s own life once you get immersed in one, and can often have very little to do with work!

I am proud to have helped to create a community which is very much collaborative. In fact a few of us ended up creating a co-operative entity out of the enjoyment and success we found working together. So you see, they are quite interchangeable in many instances.

On a daily basis, the people that I choose to collaborate with will have different ideas to me. And different strengths and values. Having people around you with different strengths is one of the best things about collaboration. You draw on one another’s skills to get things done that you might not be able to achieve alone.

Collaborating – Different Strengths

  • A key learning I’ve had about working with others over the years is the incredible relief it can be to find someone else who loves to do the jobs you dislike! It can be hard to hand over the work to someone else, knowing that you will likely have to offer them something in return. Whether it’s actual money, or a skill swap. Or maybe they do it as a one-off kindness that they are able to give you, if it’s not a long, laborious task. The weight of giving something away that you dislike doing is worth every grimace you make to yourself internally.
  • And the next time you give it to them to do (side note – it’s not ‘a kindness’ if you let them do it for nothing in return more than once!), it will feel even better. Until you find that it just makes sense to pay them to do that task, so that you can get on with the jobs you love to do, and are best at.
  • Before you know it, that person is coming to you. Asking if you can do a job for them that’s within your skillset, so that they have more time to do your work.
  • Suddenly, you are working regularly for each other. Invoicing each other for the work you are doing. The difference being that you now have a new client, you’ve got rid of the work you didn’t like doing anyway, AND you likely have a new trusted referrer of your work.
  • And – they do that task quicker than you ever could (you probably procrastinated over it – be honest!), so you still have more time than you had before.

Collaborating – Different Values

What about when they have different values? This one is a bit harder to navigate. It’s harder to recognise if you haven’t already done the work to understand what your values are. This was a huge part of our journey within our co-op, so we could understand what our shared values were. The other values that were different, became areas we could each learn more about. If you haven’t done values work – I highly recommend this site that we used . It helped us all shape the future vision of our businesses.

Sometimes, we find it difficult to work with someone else. Maybe they don’t seem to share our view of the world, or our idea of success. I used to find it really challenging to work with people who just wanted to make more and more money. Until I came to realise that often, they are just doing what much of our society tells us we ‘should’ want – more, more, more. Wanting more money is absolutely ok with me if you understand what you want it for. What are you working towards? What’s the goal? Is it towards your retirement fund, or to leave your family a legacy? If it’s only because someone said you ‘should’ be adding another ‘0’ on to your earnings this year, I’d be checking whether that matches with your values. Otherwise you could find yourself procrastinating and overwhelmed, trying to do things that don’t align with your own values. Believe me, I’ve been there..

Collaborating – Values Conflicts

And those times when you are constantly clashing with another person you are trying to work with? You might find its a values conflict. It might not mean you can’t or shouldn’t work together. It would just be a much less bumpy experience if you could understand the reasons you see things differently. I am lucky to work with a fantastic Leadership Coach, and happen to know that she is putting together a new short online course that’s specifically about working with people who are different to you! I’ll pop back here once it’s live and share the link with you. In the meantime you can have a look at the others that are already there. I’ve done every single one – the most popular one so far has been ‘Difficult Conversations’. Who hasn’t had to have one of those?!

You know what? We can’t work with everyone we meet, and that is ok. You will find that the work that you end up doing, with the people who have (at least some) similar values, is so much more rewarding, and fun. Ultimately, it makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning if you are doing work you enjoy, and collaborating with people whose company inspires you.

collaboration around boardroom table

Collaboration at Central Business Associates

At Central Business Associates, we can help you collaborate. By utilising our extended network, built up over many years of connecting and establishing trusted relationships. A diverse, skilled mix of excellent contractors you can work with.
We do this through either our Small Business Surgery sessions. We figure out together what your particular issue is that you need help with, and help you establish what skill you might need to fix the problem. Our other, more comprehensive service is to work with you, as a General Manager. This way we can really delve in to your business with you, and provide support at every step of your growth. We offer specific help where it is most needed. We can help you find the right person to work with, to do those things you can’t (or don’t want to!). Or connect you with like-minded people who may already have encountered the hurdles that you are facing. They can give you their insight to help you grow sustainably.
Our passion is helping everyone succeed. Come and join the collaboration!

*updated April 2023