How do you collaborate when a relationship has deteriorated?
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 we don't have this kind of relationship in place?
These are my top five tips for working in collaboration when the relationship has deteriorated.
1. Enlist the help of a facilitator
An impartial voice that understands the context you are working in will help you keep focused on the issues and keep the conversation on track.
This doesn’t have to be a professional facilitator. Someone who is experienced in chairing meetings and is not intimately involved in the situation would be more than suitable.
2. Make the commitment to move forward.
With or without a facilitator, you must make a commitment to move forward and leave the past behind. 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. Get personal
Next time you meet 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. Have they been on holiday, ask about their weekend, what do they like to do when they are not at work?
Also, remember to 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.
4. Start small
If there's an expectation to 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 do deliver on what you said you would and keep communications in between meetings regular.
Assigning a project lead to help support this will relieve you of the day-to-day planning, organisation, monitoring, financial management etc.
5. 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.
About the author:
Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the only consultancy to have worked with 11 Training Hubs across South London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
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 100 blogs.
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