collaboration at work

Why Collaboration at Work Starts with Me, You . . . and Excellence

I’m currently doing my master’s thesis on employer branding in the tech industry, and while I’m trying to fight procrastination (aren’t we all?), a lot of thoughts have come to my mind. Some are really interesting like What would it be like to work as a content creator in x company? Others are totally random like Why haven’t I rewatched Grey’s Anatomy for the tenth time already? And finally, the one that always returns: How can I, we, everybody help to make employees’ lives better within organizations?

There’s a lot I could say about this from a corporate comms and digital marketing perspective, but since employer branding is mainly about a company’s culture (and I’m trying to focus on this topic even though writing an article has nothing to do with my thesis, but I want to be able to say I am not procrastinating so badly), that’s the one thing I’d like to focus on for this article—particularly, on one of the elements of the social aspects of culture: collaboration.


First, because while analyzing the data from the first segment of my research, I realized there’s something that has not changed in ten years (and maybe more!): People’s perception of the social aspect of their work. It has been the most significant factor since 2009, either for being great or being atrocious.

And by social, I’m referring to what the authors of “Employer Branding: Understanding Employer Attractiveness of IT Companies” explained: Among other factors, employees seek a fun, stress-free and informal workplace with a transparent culture where they are surrounded with talented colleagues. They want to receive respect, encouragement, and support from the company and their coworkers in both professional and personal situations.  

For one section of my thesis, I examined the reviews left by employees on Glassdoor (for the five top tech companies to work for in 2019) to know what they valued the most, either positively or negatively.

Second of all, in my professional opinion, collaboration is at the heart of the social aspect.

So what now you ask? How do we create a great collaborative environment within a company?

I’d like to take the “Never touch anything with half your heart” (author unknown)approach here. Whether it’s by going the extra mile or being so good they can’t ignore you, I consider collaboration to be an act of excellence that begins and ends with yourself—with you putting your whole heart into everything you do. You can’t be responsible for how everyone else works and what they do, but you can inspire them or at least know that you did your best to create a collaborative environment. My point here is that even if you don’t like a specific task or even your job, don’t half-ass it. Collaborative work is built on actual work: the work I, you, he, she and they do. It’s the work we all do, whether the work “belongs” to you or to somebody else.

Facebook has a great saying that goes “Nothing is someone else’s problem. In reality, I know things might not be as simple, but the thing you can control 100 percent is yourself. Be excellent from beginning to end (FYI, excellence is not perfection).

Why is work the starting point of collaboration?

If you’re thinking Well, because on the job you collaborate to get work done, you’re right. I know it’s kind of obvious, but is it really? Some people collaborate to get their work done. They forget that all or at least most of the work within the company has to get done. That’s why I believe we need to start by thinking about the work we do as a whole because that’s where collaboration can start to mean something real, something more. And beyond that, we can begin to collaborate to enable visions, purposes, ideas and dreams to become a reality. How cool would that be?

Here are a few examples of how we can do excellent work, and therefore have an impact on the way we collaborate.

  • Do your best until the last day: It’s easy to start a job and be all in. It’s a bit harder to be all in when you’re leaving, but it’s equally important, no matter if you’re parting ways happy, sad, frustrated, etc. Think about the people you’re leaving (your manager, coworkers) and the person who will replace you. Think about how you will want to be remembered by your team. Think about the kind of professional you are or want to be. Think about anything that will help you to be excellent until the very end.
  • Manage expectations: I learned this the hard way. We’re only human and we can’t do it all. And, of course, we can’t do everything perfectly 100 percent of the time. That’s okay. What’s not okay is to say you will do something and then let people down (or worse, make them look bad) because you didn’t properly communicate what to expect. Also, learning when to say no is applicable here. I know this can be hard, but practice makes perfect.
  • Learn to ask for help: A lot of people have trouble asking for help. But know that wise people can admit when they’re out of their depth. And there’s nothing wrong with that because we never stop learning, and that’s one of humanity’s greatest sources of joy. How awesome is it that we have people within our workplaces that can share knowledge with us and help us grow? And that we get to pay it forward to others? Allow yourself to trust others and grow in the process.

These are just some ideas to help you get the ball rolling because every time I ask myself How can I, we, everybody help to make employees’ lives better within organizations?, I know I don’t have all the answers. But what I do know is that we have to start with ourselves, whether it is with collaboration or anything else.

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