It is common to hear people say that working in teams is hard work and sometimes even impossible. We all have experiences that prove this point repeatedly till many of us would rather look the other way when we hear about opportunities to join teams or receive invitations to collaborate. I think it is time to look at the common responses to requests for collaboration.
1. What is in it for me: This is an age-old question everyone asks at the point of evaluation. When one asks a corporate for sponsorship, it is important to have thought through the value proposition for them, how they would benefit from the association with the project and it needs to be big enough to capture their attention and provide a tangible return. Why would anyone take on more work for no return? We really need to answer that question or expect to continually work alone.
2. I don’t have the time: I was caught out on this one recently. I wanted to make some life changes and in my first session with my coach I gave what I thought were reasons for why I didn’t have the time to work out. His response was simple… ‘We find time for things that matter.’ No, those words aren’t new nor are they his creation. They are a common statement in life yet they hold true. We make time for things and people who matter so if I am approached to do something and I say I don’t have time, it could be that it isn’t important enough for me to shift the things I do and be available.
3. I don’t feel this project: People are attracted to interesting, relatable things so if we don’t build an appealing and engaging narrative we cannot expect people to resonate with what we are doing and join us. Too often we have an idea but may not have the right voice behind the idea to clarify it and draw the needed attention to it. Other times we are too technical in our approach that others outside our area of understanding don’t get what we are saying so they don’t feel it and don’t join.
4. I didn’t know about it: Other times there are important parties to the process who get the information late. Sometimes we don’t have the right contacts, other times the person is unavailable, other times it is simply a function of a poor communication strategy. Communication is critical to building interest and consensus about collaboration and often we don’t do it right. How can we improve our communication message, channel and audience to ensure that our calls for collaboration are answered with zeal and alacrity.
5. These guys are never serious: Past behaviour affects how people view us. Say an organisation is known for erratic engagement with our publics, they will respond the same way. They will know that we will ask for something, get it and go away for a while only to come back to ask for something else. This means many requests from the organisation will go unanswered or will be ignored. Those who answer will be hesitant or have a wait and see attitude. End result is low engagement.
To ensure great collaboration, it is important to do a few simple things:
It feels almost too simple to be true but sometimes the best solutions are the simple ones because they can be tried, tested and tracked.