Don’t Let These Common Collaboration Challenges Derail Your Change Effort
You’ve already identified and recruited your core partners, aligned your goals and assessed your team’s strengths and skills. You’ve committed to a collaborative approach to improving population outcomes, which means you are on track to drive lasting change.
But collaboration can get complicated quickly; partners are often in separate locations and balancing individual priorities, which can make it difficult to share ideas and resources, manage deadlines and remain focused on a shared goal. Proactively acknowledging common challenges can help ensure your collaboration effort stays on course. To help, we’ve compiled strategies for managing frequent pitfalls so that you can not only initiate, but maintain effective collaboration:
Minimize competition: Partnering with an organization with a common mission might mean partnering with an organization that competes with you for clients and recognition. When this happens, team members can feel tempted to prove their organization’s value, building internal tension that takes away from a productive collective energy. Team members need to be reminded that their fates are intertwined: the initiative’s success or failure will reflect on all contributing organizations, making collaboration essential. When the teams collaborate around a shared aim and vision, they achieve better outcomes and support the clients of all participating partners.
Manage Mistrust: there are many sources that can inhibit trust: limited experience working together, competition and initial misperceptions, to name a few. Yet effective collaboration depends on team members trusting each other so they can work together productively. Encourage a safe, judgment-free environment by establishing internal meeting ground rules that facilitate productive discussion. Consider training staff and leadership in conflict management so that there are check points within all teams.
Maximize Limited Resources: Limited time is often the most common challenge teams face. High staff and team member turnover rates, resulting in frequent reorientation of new team members, as well as external competing priorities all result in staff being pulled in too many directions at once. Taking the time to document all processes, meeting notes and materials can lead to more efficient onboarding processes, as well as build understanding and accountability for individual roles.
Avoid Indecisive Decision-Makers: Multiple stakeholders means more resources and ideas, but it also means catering to more expectations and interests. When stakeholders are pulled in multiple directions, it can be difficult for them to focus on a common aim. Address this by avoiding unclear expectations, both about stakeholder roles as well as processes, such as deadlines and reviews. Help keep stakeholders focused on the shared goal by always offering relevant options, rather than have them start from a blank slate.
Address Digital Miscommunication: With stakeholders often working in separate locations, leveraging digital communication methods is essential for success. However, with multiple files and emails circulating, information can easily be misunderstood or misplaced. Understandable human errors, such as forgetting to hit “reply all” or attaching a draft that had already been updated, can lead to inefficient collaboration. Capitalizing on technology platforms can help you easily track and share files, manage data and receive feedback.
Facilitate Process Syncing Rather than Process Sinking
Organizations and individuals often have different processes and workflows; finding a happy integration between the two can be difficult. For example, someone expecting weekly progress meetings may find daily progress report emails frustrating. Similarly, an organization familiar with one email platform’s calendar function may run into scheduling difficulties when working with another platform. Before you hit these roadblocks, collaboratively identify a process that everyone respects, and find collaboration tools that integrate with all partners’ existing platforms.
Infant Mortality CoIIN Prevention Toolkit
This interactive toolkit allows users to learn from participants in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (Infant Mortality CoIIN). Organized by topics from the initiative, this toolkit features change ideas, case studies, videos and key insights from teams who are working to reduce infant mortality throughout the country.
Collaborative Action Now to Defeat Obesity (CAN DO) Playbook
The Collaborative Action Now to Defeat Obesity (CAN DO) Playbook helps primary care, public health and community leaders work together at a local level to defeat obesity. Through interactive exercises, the CAN DO Playbook teaches proven, field-tested improvement strategies for the many settings that influence health, including schools, clinics, hospitals and communities.
Powerful Partnerships: Working Together to Improve Care
This guide is intended to help both family members and healthcare professionals who are working together to improve care for children with special healthcare needs. It includes information and guidance on how to get the most out of this potentially powerful partnership.
Partnering with Community Based Organizations
This guide teaches healthcare professionals how to effectively connect and partner with local and state organizations involved in community based education and advocacy to maximize the impact of efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic.
Expanding Perspectives: Improving Cultural Competency in Children's Health Care
This report describes provides recommendations for how best to create a healthcare system in which all children receive care that is safe, effective, efficient, timely and family centered, regardless of background or cultural differences.
Joining Forces for Healthier Communities
This report presents examples of how 10 teams in the Collaborate for Healthy Weight project brought together primary care providers, public health professionals and leaders of community organizations to work across traditional professional borders to address obesity at the community level.