Ten never fail ways to kill a collaboration
Working together successfully.
As we work with community collaborative groups, it can be helpful to review how to proceed. These ten phrases are the wrong way to build a strong collaboration, followed by what to do instead. Michigan State University Extension recommends thinking of your 4-H Club as a collaborative between members, parents, volunteers and staff.
- Give credit to the wrong people. Always appreciate the people who actually attend meetings and offer their time and resources to support the group objectives.
- Rely on oral history, not written. An agenda before the meeting and minutes following to all members is crucial.
- Be only a receiver of services. “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is great advice; action really does speak louder than words.
- Be only a giver of services. Be open to the groups’ spirit. Collaboration means give and take.
- Write a proposal for the collaboration, but don’t tell or include the other partners. All members require knowledge of the efforts of the collaboration. Transparency will strengthen the group.
- Play the Blame Game. If an effort does not go well use a non-threatening, rational evaluation to correct mistakes and plan for the future. Appreciate everyone’s efforts and look to the future with concrete improvement plans.
- Trust no one. Only by fulfilling your goals will a trusting relationship develop. Trust each member to fulfill their responsibilities. Action and success will define the group.
- Don’t return phone calls or emails. Communication is the key to a successful effort. Take time to return calls or emails within 24 hours. If you are too busy to respond you might be too time challenged to be in this collaboration.
- Develop a convenient memory. A written history of group efforts can eliminate selective memory. Looking back can crystallize the path to the future.
- Adopt Sinatra’s theme song, My Way. Inspire others to become more and motivate them to do more. Do not do things your way. Choose to be a team player.
One of the most important responsibilities of a collaboration or 4-H club is to reach their goals. By working together goal achievement is possible. MSU Extension has many other resources as well.