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Published on March 25, 2021

How To Improve Your Collaborative Skills In the Workplace

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How To Improve Your Collaborative Skills In the Workplace

One of the most significant factors that contribute to any team’s success is its ability to collaborate. Yet, collaborating isn’t always easy. The ability to collaborate is an acquired skill. Working as a cohesive team doesn’t come naturally. We have to work at growing together. We have to develop a flow in which our time, talent, personalities, and skills all come together to accomplish a goal.

How to improve your collaboration skills should be the focus of your professional growth. When we focus on growing in our ability to collaborate, we succeed in achieving our goals. The ability to accomplish our goals is solely dependent on our ability to overcome our hang-ups, egos, and challenges long enough to become a cohesive team. The success of the organization happens when we decide to develop collaborative skills.

As we dive into our understanding of how to improve our collaborative skills in the workplace, it is essential to note a difference between teamwork and collaboration. Even though it may seem as if collaborative communities and teams are the same, they are not.

Both teamwork and collaboration involve an assortment of people working together to complete a shared goal. However, there is a critical difference between collaboration and teamwork. Teamwork combines all team members’ individual efforts to achieve a goal. On the other hand, collaboration happens when people are working together to complete a project collectively. Collaborative teams have no leader and little hierarchical structure. They pool their thoughts and talents together to accomplish the goal. A team is a collective of people, who have a leader, a structure, and delegated individual tasks to complete to contribute towards the team’s end goal.

The main differences between the two are that one focuses on developing leads while the other focuses on developing employees. When we develop leaders, we all win. When we create employees, we limit our growth potential. The bottom line is that if you want to grow your organization, focus on team development. If you’re going to multiply your organization, focus on building a collaborative community. Teams work while leaders collaborate. Both are important and bring value, but shifting your focus to building collaborative skills is a declaration that you desire to develop leaders. Especially if your team is now working virtually.

With that said, what are the primary skills that each collaborative community must develop to succeed?

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Primary Collaborative Skills To Develop

There can be several collaborative skills we can develop:

  • Communication
  • Group brainstorming
  • Emotional Fitness
  • Problem-solving
  • Setting Priorities
  • Transformative Thinking
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Debate

As in-exhaustive as this list could be, the above provides several must-have collaborative skills in your organization’s operation. They are non-negotiable values. Improving your collaborative skills are not optional. We must lead ways to improve our collaborative skills within the workplace or run the risk of becoming ineffective.

Regardless of the collaborative values, there is one thing for sure. You have to improve your collaboration skills. What you don’t grow will die. Success will be unattainable if your collaborative community fails.

How To Improve Your Collaboration Skills in the Workplace

1. Deeper Your Trust

Trust is given, not earned.

You may have heard the reverse of that. The statement has traditionally been, “trust is earned and not given.” This is the worst advice you can carry. It carries with it a strong distrust in people.

You can never empower someone you do not trust. Trust needs to be given, not earned. Allow the team to lose it. I know this feels backward and counterintuitive. The question we have to ask ourselves continually is if we want to remain safe or grow. Growth takes risks. Risks are demonstrated in your ability to give away part of your authority to your team. As I mentioned, if you can’t trust your team, you won’t delegate authority. Thus, you will not accomplish the goals you set out to do.

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As a community of professionals, continuously build the collaborative skill of trust. Deepen your understanding of one another. Show your team you genuinely care about them. Make sure they know that you value what they bring to the team. Help them understand that they are not just tools to complete a mission but a collective of individuals who are building something great.

When trust is built, expanded, and deepened, the team moves to a new productivity level.

2. Improve Your Self-Awareness

Understand your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your hang-ups are imperative to growing your collaborative skills. Most teams’ struggle is that instead of being a collaborative community, they are a collective of individuals. Being a collective of individuals would be ok if you worked in a team and not a collaborative community.

The key to building your skills within a collaborative community is found in the level of your self-awareness. Most people are only self-aware enough to get the job done. This is the lowest level of self-awareness. At this level, there is no creativity, no connection to the real you, and minimal emphasis on leadership or leadership development.

Improving your self-awareness helps you understand who you are. Also, it helps you know how you properly fit into the community. The greater understanding I possess of myself (personality, strengths, weaknesses, and hang-ups), the more useful I can be within the community.

If we do not have a high level, or growing level, of self-awareness, then being an effective member of the collaborative community will escape you. Working towards building your collaborative skills within the workplace will take time and effort. Using tools like personality tests, strength finders, and mentors can help you speed up the process.

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3. Embrace Change

Change is the only constant within the workplace. Instead of fearing change, make it your competitive advantage. Allow change to fuel you instead of draining you. It would be best to shift your thinking from someone who reacts to change to someone who initiates change.

Those who can embrace change are those that can adapt to anything within the workplace. Stress is an occupational hazard within high-performing teams and collaborative communities. Embracing change is imperative if you are going to grow in your collaborative skills.

Embracing change means I am learning how to operate with flexibility and adaptability. What people miss is that working in a collaborative community requires a high degree of flexibility and adaptability. If we fail to learn how to embrace change, we will fail to develop the collaborative skills needed to contribute to a highly successful community.

Embracing change requires both trust and self-awareness. You will have to learn to trust your instincts and wisdom. There will be times when you have to trust the collective instincts and insights of your community. You will need to know how you respond to stress and what you can do about it. It is within this place of convergence that true collaboration can be born. A place where you each trust one another, adapt to change, learn one another, and work together towards a joint mission.

Learn How To Embrace Change In Life (Even If It’s Hard to Change).

What Happens If You Don’t Improve Your Collaboration Skills

After seeing how to improve your collaborative skills, you start to wonder what would happen if you don’t improve.

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Here are just a few situations:

Failed Projects

The inability to collaborate creates a failure to complete tasks. The possibility of unfinished or faith projects exponentially increases.

Unmet Targets

Aiming at a target does not guarantee that you will hit it. The purpose of a collaborative community is that they complete the tasks they are given. A team that isn’t improving their collaborative skills tends to miss the mark on their targets.

Unhappy and Unproductive Teams

Finally, if a collaborative community can’t address its collaboration roadblocks, teams may become disgruntled and lead towards ineffectiveness. An unhappy team is an unproductive team, especially when they aren’t sure what they’re working towards. Improving your collaborative skills gives you the advantage because it creates high morale within the group.

Bottom Line

If you are going to create success, then you will want to improve your collaborative skills. Simple changes over time create massive success. Don’t be the person who allows your team to fail because you failed to focus on improving your collaborative skills.

Don’t wait until you are ready. Start today and build the collaborative skills needed to create the success you have been envisioning. Remember that mission completion is a team effort. You need to develop your collaborative skills because you can’t do this alone.

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More Essential Work Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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Jim Burgoon

Founder of The Everyday Leader

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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