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.

  1. 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.
  2. Rely on oral history, not written. An agenda before the meeting and minutes following to all members is crucial.
  3. 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.
  4. Be only a giver of services. Be open to the groups’ spirit. Collaboration means give and take.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Develop a convenient memory. A written history of group efforts can eliminate selective memory. Looking back can crystallize the path to the future.
  10. 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.

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