col·lab·o·rate \k?-?la-b?-?r?t\ (verb) : to work with another person or group in order to achieve, do, produce, or create something
Collaborating with clients is an important part of my role as an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel. Recently, I was invited to participate in a collaboration meeting with our client CHG Healthcare, in an effort to come up with best practices and simplified solutions for them.
CHG did a fine job organizing the details, the meeting itself was highly beneficial as we were able to create and modify processes that will make their overall “user experience” better, and follow up tasks were assigned. It also gave me an inside view of CHG’s organizational and professional practices, which impressed me greatly.
Having been involved in this meeting, I have identified three important steps to encourage an effective collaboration effort:
1. Identify a clear goal.
Know why you’re meeting together. What is the end purpose? What are you trying to fix or create? Once you’ve identified the goal, don’t allow anything to sidetrack your collaboration.
2. Involve/invite all the key players (and make sure everyone participates).
Every individual (or department) is going to have a different perspective, and each of those perspectives is important. What might seem like a solution for one group, may create problems for another. Make sure that everyone has a chance to share opinions and ideas. If one person is dominating the discussion, shift the focus and specifically invite others to weigh in on how certain ideas will affect them.
3. Assign follow-up tasks.
Make sure someone has been assigned to keep track of assignments. Once the meeting is over, send those assignments out with clear deadlines for completion. The whole meeting will have been for naught if action isn’t taken and followed up on.
I appreciate my relationships with all my clients and am certain that collaboration and sharing ideas is the best way to learn and be engaged.