Want to build a culture of collaboration within your business?

A scattering of faces on a blue screen with more concentrated towards the center

What is collaboration versus communication?  Communication involves the sharing of ideas. Collaboration is more than communication. Collaboration involves parties working towards a common goal. If you would like to enhance your skills in this area and need to work with others to work towards a common goal, read on. The idea for this commentary came from a Forbes article entitled “4 tips for building a culture of collaboration within your business”.  This article begins with these four ideas and then I expand upon them to help you and add value going forward. 




Two clients hired me to work with very talented individuals that bring tremendous value to their firms, but others find that these individuals also have lapses into anger that others find offensive and irritating. By working with these individuals, developing trust, having an authentic, connecting relationship and listening to them it became apparent why in each case. If you take the time to actually get to know the person you are in conflict with you may find there are things going on outside of work that are having a negative impact on that person. As another example you may find that others like this person so much, and that person is so giving, they make the time for others over their priorities,  and that negatively impacts their deadlines.  That may be why they are continually late. These are some insights I wanted to share with you. There is likely some reason co-workers  may have difficulty working well with others or meeting deadlines. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the four major points of the Forbes article.


Forbes article


The Forbes article offers 4 tips. These are

  1. Establish a Foundation of Trust and Communication
  2. Create Opportunities for a Culture of Collaboration
  3. Use Technology to Make Collaboration Seamless
  4. Assess and Revise

Establishing a foundation of trust requires that you share information that everyone needs to do their jobs well instead of limiting access to information. By taking the time to update others or checking in periodically this goes a long way of making sure everyone is on the same page.

You need to intentionally design projects with collaboration in mind. It doesn’t just happen. Equipment the team with the proper tools and guidance as appropriate given their experience with this team concept. Check in periodically to see what is working or not working and see how you can help.

The Forbes article links to some tools for consideration. Whatever tool is chosen it is important to work with the team to gain the buy in and the skills to work with the tool.  The tools need to work for the skill set of the people involved.  Everyone needs to be on board.  Take the time for training and follow up.

Regularly assess how things are going and revise as necessary. Identify barriers and opportunities. What is working well? What isn’t? Make changes that work for this team. Employee feedback is critical.  Just the process of obtaining feedback promotes collaboration.


Additional insights


These four points offer helpful insights and ideas.  When everything is clicking and working well these are great tips. The idea of assessing and revising as necessary is right on point. So, what do you do when you don’t have a team player. Examples might be someone who is


Doesn’t share

Takes the credit

Has anger management issues

These are all too familiar issues that can crop up. So, what do you do? Here are some ideas to help you with them.  First you, have to identify the problem.  Next you need to gain additional insights and ensure you have a complete picture from the individuals involved and impacted.  The key is to have them commit to you what they will do by when as a next step.


With an egotistical person find something you can complement the person on. Think of something positive about that person. If there is a concern with them doing something that is marginal at best, consider framing the commentary how they could take something that is good and make it even better. The key is to inspire the person and develop trust.  Think about this ahead of time and make it crystal clear.

Doesn’t share

There are many reasons why people don’t share. It is important to understand why they don’t share.  Once you understand this, there are actions you can take to encourage participation and engagement with various approaches.  Consider how you reward and recognize them. Create opportunities to interact and develop relationships.  Eliminate barriers to the free flow of information. Be transparent and encourage transparency.

Takes the credit

Rather than accusing anyone, focus on communicating with them. Ask them how they gave credit for the work that was done. Try to understand their viewpoint before you suggest your ideas on what you would like to see happen in the future. Focus on the future and what we can do going forward.  If it is important for what just happened ask them if they would consider changing what they have indicted.

Has anger management issues

If someone else has anger management issues you should focus on staying calm and listening to them. Give them some space to give them a chance to de-escalate and calm down.   Consider setting boundaries in advance for next time and think about actions you can take to help. We all have triggers. Help them identify theirs so that they can take action to control their triggers.  It may mean they need some professional help. Here are some ideas for your consideration related to treatments for anger and supporting someone to seek help. Consider help for your own wellbeing too. 




To build a culture of collaboration within your business consider the four tips presented here and consider the four common barriers identified here and how to address these with others. It’s not about you. It is all about what you and others can create with each other. The change starts with you. Consider how you can go from good to great. Consider individual needs and interests.  Give it a try. You may be surprised on what could happen. Let me know how it goes.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]