Collaborative Executives
Building Collaboration In The Workplace
Jan 29, 2019 5 min read

When assigned common tasks or projects, it can become difficult to understand a colleagues motives or rationale behind their decisions that don’t involve you. This can cause you anxiety, an increase in stress levels and can lead up to a hindrance to the success of the project.

Sometimes a competitive spirit vs a collaborative one kicks in amongst peers. Doubts and fears show up as inhibiting thoughts and this can come in the way of what needs to be achieved together.

Some common inner narratives look like this — He/She shows no signs of co-operating. Why is he holding back the information? She has stepped over me and gone straight to the boss, making me look insignificant. I cannot allow him to take all the credit for the success of the project!

To achieve a collaborative working relationship it is important to first invest time in setting expectations followed by setting our mutual boundaries.

Some good questions for each other are — How are you feeling about doing this piece together? What parts of this project would prove to be a challenge for you? How can we support each other? In our work together, what are your expectations from me? How do you like to approach this work?

Asking the question “ When working on this project, what is important to you?” will help you understand what the individual values in the project. if the answer is — adhering to deadlines- then it indicates that time is an important value to the individual and respecting it is crucial to the success of working together.

The second step is achieving clarity on the boundaries and joint expectations. An example is “ we both agree that when we send something over to the Manager, we will keep the other person in the loop at all times. We agree to be transparent and share information”. Being clear at the outset paves the way for respecting each other's boundaries.

Have that crucial conversation!

Sometimes in spite of our best efforts, there could be lapses that lead to tensions amongst colleagues.

Recently a client told me about his concern with his colleague who was ignoring his repeated requests for information needed for a project they had both been assigned to. Frustrated, he saw the response as a sign of non-cooperation from his colleague. He was worried about how they were going to move forward together.

In such situations, it is important to have a crucial conversation. The executive can tell his colleague — I would like to understand the reasons for not being able to share the information I have asked for several times.

Note that the language is important here - I would like to understand denotes openness and a willingness to see the other person point of view. A question of this nature leads not only to opening the door to useful information for you but also to building a relationship. Perhaps the person is concerned about the quality of his information and it is your opportunity to support him or her!

Another example is ‘ We had agreed to keep each other in the loop when sending information to the Manager. However I was not aware, of the document, you sent across and it took me by surprise! As trust is important to me, I want to understand your reasons”. Here you are expressing your value — trust and are seeking to understand without prior judgement.

The key to moving forward is to address the issue when your colleague's behaviour is not in alignment with what was agreed to at the outset. Do not simmer in anger because it leads to acute stress and conflict.

What happens if people do not respond

It may be that the other person does not respond to you and uses the strategy of either ignoring or circumventing the topic raised by you.

Avoid digressing and ensure that the other person is aware of your observations and feelings. Even though not acknowledged, your conversation will make your colleague, wary about repeating the same mistake again.

Secondly, expressing your feeling provides you with the opportunity to manage your emotions better. Rather than suppress them and pretend you don’t have a problem, you discuss them and release those pent up emotions. them.


Great collaboration is built on a foundation of clarity, empathy, respect and communication. How you open the door to collaborating decides the path your colleagues and you will tread on for the time you spend together.

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