Benefits of collaboration
By Alison Rogers, EcoNetwork Port Stephens.
Look closely at the photos people dancing at the Sustainable Future Festival gala dinner launch and you will notice that many of the most energetic dancers happen to be members of the organising committee. Not left depleted after organising such a grand event, we were buzzing! Collaborating and cooperating to organise the gala dinner meant we supported each other, were open to incorporating each other’s ideas and covered for each other when needed. Working in this way meant we achieved more than we could have alone, fostered friendships and felt a surge of positive energy propelling us to carve up the dance floor!
The benefits of working cooperatively are documented in large and significant bodies of social psychological evidence. Increased productivity, psychological health and positive relationships have been demonstrated to occur when teams are working well. The research also shows that there are five key elements that consistently appear in groups that work cooperatively. When these five elements are purposefully combined, successful social relationships are more likely to achieve the cooperative goals.
The five elements of cooperative teamwork include:
- Establish a shared goal where team members need to rely on each other to achieve success
- Be accountable to each other by explicitly allocating roles and doing one’s part
- Provide encouragement through helpful behaviours and offering support
- Use social skills to communicate appropriately, manage conflict and build trust
- Reflect on what is working well and what needs adjusting
Many people working for volunteer organisations have felt the synergistic vibe that can occur when a group works in a collaborative way to achieve a common goal. All of us have suffered the consequences of situations where negative dynamics have derailed teamwork. These five elements may provide a useful touch stone for think about the ‘ingredients’ required to support your group. Reflecting on group dynamics can help identify what can be strengthened as part of a continuous improvement process.
If you have enjoyed this segment of Get Involved keep an eye out for next month’s topic ‘Decision making’. Send comments, feedback or ideas for new topics to firstname.lastname@example.org