How To Move Your Team From Co-Operation To Collaboration

Collaborative team working togetherThere are many examples of teams who have co-operated on tasks to accomplish goals.

And co-operation has proved to be beneficial in many respects to achieve what couldn’t be achieved individually.

However, to make the team even more productive, you need to move it into ‘collaborative’ mode.

What’s the difference?

In co-operating together, a team tends to work together agreeably, whether it’s in meetings or other aspects of the working environment.

Co-operating gets results, as ‘two hands are better than one’ and ‘many hands make light work, etc.

A team will work together for common or mutual benefit, and we’ll see good results materialise as time progresses.

Co-operating teams exchange relevant information and resources to support each other’s goals and objectives, and it’s good that the co-operation can work at different levels within teams.

Each person may well be responsible for certain tasks and needs others to help him or her accomplish them.

What about collaboration, then?

It can be defined as a co-ordinated suite of activities that aims at solving problems or achieving objectives that are outside the remit of just one individual.

The synergies that exist through collaboration outweigh what teams would achieve individually.

Collaboration involves diverse thinking, allowing people to come together to share ideas and adding value at strategic points in the process.

Think of it like going to the gym.

If you just went once or twice, the benefits wouldn’t be felt long-term and you wouldn’t see any measurable results.

If you had a programme that you adhered to, you would start to see good results pretty quickly.

The muscles get stronger and more flexible.

The benefits range from increased blood supply to better oxygenation of the whole system.

Think of collaboration in a similar vein.

Reliance on others grows as you synergistically apply goal-seeking and objective-gaining to certain problems.

You generate ideas that take the discussions and teamwork forward towards solutions quicker.

And you create a different level of thought in the team members as they see concepts from different perspectives.

So what can you do to get the team to collaborate?

Here are some ideas:

  • Have a defined purpose that everyone can agree with and buy into
  • Set expectations that everyone can agree with
  • Set goals and objectives based on those expectations
  • Look at team member strengths and build on them
  • Build a team spirit that means they collaborate by default
  • Recognise when people are being collaborative and reward such behaviour

By identifying what the team needs to do to get great results and showing how the collaborative mindset may help them achieve those goals, you encourage them to share ideas so they work synergistically together, and get better results than if they were merely co-operating.

There are four components that make up a collaborative team player:


A collaboration will make people positive and actually WANT to work with others to get the best results


The viewpoint of team members will allow all to work on the solution, not concentrate on the problem


The collaborative team member concentrates on the team ethos, not on themselves as an individual


Achieved results drive the collaborative nature of a team member

As a manager, get your team to collaborate, rather than co-operate, and you’ll see a real difference in performance.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 4 December, 2018

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