Profile of a 21st Century Collaborative Employee

By Natanya Rutstein

Working in collaboration with others is a highly productive way of realising a successful outcome, solving a complex problem or creating a superior end-product. The value of organised workplace collaboration is widely recognised across industries and is used both formally and informally often incorporating   a range of innovative and technologically advanced collaboration tools. Some of the most popular tools used to facilitate collaboration amongst employees are file sharing, instant messaging, video conferencing and social media.

Carlos Dominguez of Cisco has defined workplace collaboration as “highly diversified teams working together inside and outside a company with the purpose to create value by improving innovation, customer relationships and efficiency while leveraging technology for effective interactions in the virtual and physical space.”

So, what are the qualities we should look for in our employees in order to nurture a culture of collaboration in the organisation? A 21st century employee who collaborates well with others should be:

  • An active LISTENER – always willing to listen to diverse views and ideas of team members.
  • Someone who confronts issues and analyses problems WITHOUT ASSIGNING BLAME. Their focus is on framing the problem and finding solutions rather than blaming others.
  • An accomplished BRAINSTORMER – committed to bouncing ideas off others and connecting with the creative potential of diverse inputs in order to access new thinking and potential solutions.
  • A willing COMPROMISER – not averse to accepting a compromise when the situation calls for it in order to move forward.
  • A good NEGOTIATOR – building consensus amongst group members to generate solutions and achieve goals.
  • A LIFELONG LEARNER –constantly seeking new knowledge and fresh ideas. Willing to share their knowledge and open to the guidance and mentoring of others.
  • Someone who views MISTAKES as OPPORTUNITIES to learn and not afraid to take responsibility for their own their mistakes and the consequences thereof.
  • Comfortable with giving OPEN FEEDBACK to team members on their contributions as well as being generous with giving RECOGNITION to othersfor their achievements and successes.

Just last week, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s latest collaboration – “I Don’t Care” broke the single-day Spotify streaming record by receiving 10.977 million streams in a day! A record which has never yet been achieved individually by either artist. Organisations should also be looking to nurture a collaborative working environment and recruit and develop employees who are able and willing to collaborate with their co-workers.

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