7 Golden Rules of Collaboration

7 Golden Rules of Collaboration
Brian McHale
7 Golden Rules of Collaboration

As a copywriter, I collaborate with lots of folks, from designers to account managers, partners to clients, and it always makes the work better. When different people with different ways of thinking put their heads together, ideas suddenly get bigger (and better) than any one person could make them. That’s the beauty of collaborating, and it’s not limited to the ad biz.

No matter the industry or project, teamwork skills are essential. Here are seven ways to up your collaboration game:

  1. Speak up. If there’s something you don’t quite understand, or need clarified, there is no shame in asking. Zero. Better to ask now than the day before a big deadline, when you realize you’ve been going about something all wrong. Same goes for your capacity. If you feel overwhelmed, or need help prioritizing a heavy workload, talk to your manager. Speak up now while there’s still plenty of time to find a solution.
  2. Own your role. Know what’s expected of you, then meet–better yet, exceed–those expectations. Respect the roles of others too. If you’re frustrated with how a teammate is doing (or not doing) his or her job, don’t start doing it for them. Instead, ask how you can help and work together (collaborate!) to successfully complete the project.
  3. Process, process, process. Have a process and stick to it. Take proofreading, for example. Seems like a straightforward process. You review something for grammatical errors, typos and so on. But what happens when your proofreader gets slammed with 10 things to proof, and they all need to be reviewed, corrected and sent back to a client in the next hour? A process establishes timing and expectations, preventing problems later.
  4. More talking, less typing. If you’re writing an email and wonder if you’re making sense, stop typing and pick up the phone, or ask team members to have a quick huddle. Email is great for quick, specific requests, and even longer recaps. But it’s best to talk out the trickier parts of a project or request.
  5. Respect. When you’re in a meeting, don’t interrupt someone else. Listen respectfully before chiming in. And respect your teammates’ time. A project that is urgent for you might be less urgent for someone else. We all have to juggle projects and balance our workload.
  6. Follow through. Don’t leave people hanging, be it a client or coworker. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t make excuses. We’re all bound to forget something every now and then (we’re human, after all), but making it a habit causes problems for everyone.
  7. Celebrate success. Maybe you won an account or the client’s approval on a big project. Maybe your company met a financial goal or earned an award. Whatever the case, take time to celebrate big wins together. Step away from your desks, even if just for 30 minutes, and let the high fives fly.