Collaborative Teammates Demonstrate 8 Behaviors

If you want to be a teamplayer, you should be more collaborative with your teammates. But what exactly does that mean you should do?

Collaboration isn’t a mindset or attitude. It’s action. It’s the way you behave with others on your team.

Here are eight behaviors your teammates ought to see from you if you want to claim that you are collaborative.

Leadership Development

Share information

You are transparent because you’d happily welcome people jumping in with an opinion or assistance. They can’t do so unless they know what you are working on. Need some ideas about what to share? Consider this list:

  • Availability
  • Goals
  • Current work priorities
  • Progress on projects
  • Ideas for improving a process or service
  • Concerns
  • Questions
  • Reactions

It’s all about being open with people. If this isn’t your normal approach to interacting with coworkers, it will feel risky. Work through your fears and do it anyway.

Openness is the foundation for effective collaboration.

Ask for feedback

The reason we collaborate is because we want better results. The idea is that others have different skills and perspectives that can help us improve our performance.

The problem is that for most people, their operating principle is to “Mind your own business.”

To overcome that natural hesitation, you can invite feedback from others. Here are some opportunities for you to consider.

  • When you finish running a meeting, ask others for how they thought you could have improved the meeting.
  • When you are writing a challenging email, run the draft past a teammate to get a second opinion.
  • When you have a big idea, toss it out to your team and ask them to make it better. Try this question, “What am I not thinking about that I should consider?”

Collaborative team members constantly invite feedback, not because they want ego strokes, but because they truly want others to share their thoughts.

Provide feedback

It’s possible some of your teammates aren’t asking for feedback. So what? Go for it anyway.

When you notice something and believe your feedback would help a coworker be more successful, proactively offer it.

There are two reasons for offering feedback:

  1. You want to make sure your teammate understands that what they did was helpful so that they can repeat the behavior.
  2. You want your teammate to understand that there may be other approaches that could be more effective, so that the person can change and improve.

Just make sure your feedback is timely, specific, and given with a supportive spirit.

Receive feedback well

There’s a third aspect of feedback that is the lynchpin in a culture where people ask for and volunteer feedback.

You’ve got to show the person who offers it that you are glad they gave you feedback.

If you think the feedback is the best advice ever, tell the person.

If you think the feedback is the worst advice ever, thank the person for offering it. It might sound like this, “Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I’m always glad when you offer your insights. You’ve given me something to think about.”

Problem-solve with others

You don’t need to solve every problem on your own. Being collaborative means bringing other brains into your process and working on solutions together.

This might look like a formal problem solving meeting.

It could also be as simple as having some one-on-one conversations with coworkers to kick around ideas and see if they can help you find a better solution.

Look out for stakeholders

Collaborative people have a strong external focus. They want to be sure that they aren’t recklessly pursuing their interests to the detriment of their teammates.

Behavioral success on this means they…

  1. Try to identify all the stakeholders who might be affected by an action they want to take.
  2. Talk to those stakeholders to see what they think.
  3. Rethink their actions if the cost on others is too great.

Offer support whenever you see an Opportunity

Collaboration means recognizing that you and your teammates share a common set of interests.

While someone else may have direct responsibility for a problem, they need not be all alone in getting it done. When you see a way to help, offer it.

You can provide emotional support. You can also jump in and take on some of the work when it makes sense for everyone.

Engage in healthy debate

Finally, solving problems in a collaborative manner means hashing out differences.

While this may feel like a fight, collaborative people know it’s all about vetting ideas and figuring out the best path forward by working together.

This means you need to engage. You also need to be kind.

These actions aren’t mutually exclusive. Work it out together.

Are you collaborative?

Collaboration is about better ideas and mutual support.

There are specific behaviors associated with it. Now that you’ve read what they are, your next step is to determine if you are behaving in this way.

If not, pick one. Make a plan for how to do more of it. Practice. Get some feedback from others.

When you’ve mastered it, pick another and repeat.

Then enjoy the benefits of being a member of a highly-collaborative, wildly successful team.

Tom LaForce, President, LaForce Teamwork Inc.