Author: Gina Rubel
When you think of the word collaborate, what images come to mind?
If you search the word on Google Images, it shows hands embraced in a circle, people holding puzzle pieces together, interconnected flow charts, and people holding cogs in motion. These images connote the need for each individual to play his or her part in order to collaborate successfully.
Should you find yourself in the position of collaborating with a service provider such as a strategic marketing firm, public relations agency, website development firm, business development consultant or graphic designer, here are ways to make that collaboration more successful:
Understand the scope of your relationship
If you were not privy to the contract and the details of the relationship, be sure to ask. Make sure the service provider understands exactly what you expect of them and vice versa.
Define specific roles and responsibilities
Every member of the team should know his or her role in the collaborative process. Define who will liaise with your extended team, who will answer questions, who will be responsible for final decisions, and so on. You know what they say about too many chefs in the kitchen.
Set measurable objectives
Define what needs to be accomplished and how you will measure the success of each endeavor. Follow through and ask for accountability.
Set deadlines and stick to them
Every next step in a project is contingent upon the completion of the previous step. Therefore, if you don’t stick to deadlines, you shouldn’t expect projects to be completed on time. If you know that your decision makers tend to wait until the last minute to make decisions, build in time for that and be sure to communicate that culture to your strategic partners.
While in some cases, too many chefs may spoil the soup, the more the merrier when it comes to brainstorming. Ideas are just that and they are never wrong or right. Oftentimes, bits and pieces of many ideas come together to form the perfect solution. When all members of the team are given the opportunity to participate, you are more likely to have their buy-in when it is time to roll out the end result.
Keep your team informed
Host regular status check-ins on whatever frequency is necessary and always ask, “Where do we stand and are we meeting our objectives?”
Everyone on the team should be aware of the details no matter how big or small. An informed team is an excited team, and if you have communicated openly, there will be no surprises and no one should ever feel blindsided.
During my life and career, I have been in many situations where collaboration has been the key to successful outcomes. As a practicing lawyer, it meant having a trial team, support staff and experts who would prepare and present the case in a way that would provide a successful outcome to our clients. As a parent, it often means making sure everyone in our household is on the same page as it relates to boundaries, plans and household needs. As a board member, it means bringing my best to the table to provide valuable insights and discourse in order to make decisions in the best interest of the entity served.
As a strategic marketing and public relations partner, collaboration means thinking critically, questioning everything, supporting recommendations with concrete data, and keeping our clients engaged and informed every step of the way.