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How do you collaborate during a pandemic?

It goes without saying that, for us to work collaboratively, we have to feel as though we know, like and trust each other. But what do we do when a good relationship starts to turn sour and we’re in the middle of a pandemic?

1. Address it

I know the last thing you will want to do is to NOT rock a boat which already feels like its unsteady and leaking. However, you cannot afford to brush poor team performance or a lack of communication under the carpet. Now more than ever we need to be on the same page or what already feels difficult will feel even more so.

Set up an online meeting, call the person or if you can see each other in person, even better.

2. Make the commitment to move forward

In order to reach a real resolution, the meeting should be approached with the commitment to be honest, to move forward then to leave the past behind you. What’s done is done and the clocks can’t be turned back.

Explain how you are REALLY feeling and then commit to moving forward.

We all make mistakes, are under pressure to deliver, have bad days, are managing conflicting priorities, have different systems, structures and rules we need to abide by and have different personal values. The context of our work is always shifting, and this provides new opportunities to revive relationships with a different lens and purpose.

3. Remember the Bigger Picture

At the time of writing this the world is going through the coronavirus. Lives are being lost, we are looking for certainty in uncertain times, businesses have been closed down overnight, our freedom has been restricted and we have family and friends we want to keep safe.

Whatever the conflict is, we must remember the context right now.

4. Get personal

Next time you interact with the person or team you are trying to build a relationship with, make an effort to get to know them on a personal level.

Ask them how they are, how they are coping, or praise them for a piece of work they have been involved in that has received good reviews.

A small gesture can go a long way and will form the building blocks of your relationship.

5. Start small

If there's an expectation to still work together – start small to build trust.

Choose one area that you both feel is a priority and then set on creating a plan that clearly articulates: who, what, why, when, how and how much?

Schedule in advance regular meetings which have a clear purpose and assign roles and responsibilities. Most importantly, ensure you deliver on what you said you would, and keep communications in between meetings regular.

6. Be patient

Remember to be patient. Relationships inevitably require you to relinquish control and share risks, resources, and rewards. Take time because, unfortunately, there is no getting around it.

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Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast.

Tara and her team also work with GP federations supporting the implementation of clinical services.

Tara has over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sector and has an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care and is the author of over 150 blogs.

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