Working Well with Others

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In writing these posts, I’ve frequently mentioned (some might say “harped on”) the crucial role that others play in supporting and improving your level of productivity and success.

But I haven’t said much about what you can do to help others.

That’s what I’m going to do this time.

But note that while the structure of this piece is aimed at helping you help others produce and succeed, you can perfectly well turn it around by referring others to this piece so they can learn more about how to help you succeed in your work and your life.

Working Together Pays Dividends

The obvious reasons for people to work together are to accomplish work that one person cannot easily do alone, and also to complete more and better work in less time.

The basic guideline for working well together is that each person makes their top contribution to the joint effort, applying their strengths and doing what they best know how to do.

This doesn’t mean you have to contribute all your strengths, or do everything you know how to do best. It simply means drawing on everyone’s strong points, and letting someone else cover for any weak points any individual contributor may have.

Here are some tips on helping another person improve their level of productivity and success:

Ways to Help

Challenge the other person to improve. You can often be the one who drives another person to work harder and deliver more, perhaps even more than s/he thought possible.

Accomplish a particular task, which may include general activities or applying your special expertise. Sometimes your most helpful contribution can be simply taking a chore off another person’s back and letting them get on with what they do best.

Check on the quality of the work. People often get so caught up in their drive to complete a task or a project that they overlook silly, simple errors that you – looking in from the outside – can more easily see.

Obtain needed resources for the joint project. Sometimes, a great way to help another person produce and succeed in extra measure is to obtain the raw materials and/or other resources they need to keep working at full speed.

Develop new or more effective ways to accomplish the joint project. You may be able to bring perspective, experience, and creativity another person cannot bring to their own task or project.

Evaluate the ideas of others working on the joint project. Again, your perspective, experience, and creativity can help another person see the big picture or the hidden dangers in their own task or project.

Coordinate the efforts of several other people. People who have their heads down, working hard on a joint project, may greatly benefit from one person who has his/her head up, helping them mesh their individual efforts more effectively.

Negotiate disputes and differences to reach amicable arrangements among those having problems working together. This may also include motivating and helping those working on the project to function better with others.

Assess completeness of the work. This may also include helping to establish the goal of the joint project, and/or the criteria for knowing when the goal has been accomplished.

Qualities to Bring

Working well with other people can be as simple as doing a small task when asked. But it can also be far more complex. Here are some personal qualities to bring when you are helping someone else produce and succeed more than they could working solo:

Leadership

In certain situations, your best contribution to another person’s productivity and success will be some or all of the qualities of leadership, including:

  • Understanding the big picture.
  • Setting the purpose and the goal.
  • Setting the deadline.
  • Establishing working arrangements.
  • Determining the budget.
  • Defining each person’s role and responsibilities.

Team Membership

In other situations, your best contribution will be the attributes of a strong team member, including:

  • Clarity about your role and responsibilities.
  • Reliability.
  • Steadfastness.
  • Good communication.
  • Flexibility.
  • Positive attitude.
  • Willingness to work hard.
  • Willingness to sacrifice for the good of the joint project.

Helping others produce and succeed at higher levels often depends on your willingness to work well with others in whatever role the situation may require. By cultivating these attributes in yourself, and applying them when and where requested or necessary, you contribute to a rising tide of productivity and success that lifts everyone involved, including yourself.

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