Comment: Can you really collaborate?

By: Carol McGeady, Executive Officer NZ Trucking Association


Carol McGeady discusses working together to a common purpose, and asks the question: can you really collaborate?

Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve business benefit. Collaboration enables individuals to work together to achieve a defined and common business purpose"

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Sounds like a good idea but can you really collaborate? The United Nations collaborates all the time with counties, ethnic diversity and organisations. It can’t be easy but is it impossible?

In your business try exploring how you could collaborate to grow your business. Nobody is that good that they can do it all alone. Collaborating shares the load and ideas. If you take a holistic approach to your business and stand back and look at it from the outside with no emotion.

How could your business be better through collaboration?

Make sure your big ugly ego doesn’t get in the way.

Being jealous of another business or spending your time on undercutting rates is a waste of time and resources. Think about the stress you put yourself under. Is there another way? Just challenge your normal thought patterns.

Make a list of everything that is a daily challenge.

It may be that you have a driver shortage for an example. Why not approach a similar company who has probably got similar issues. Open a conversation about a collaboration? This could have a hugely positive outcome. You may even be able to share drivers. Until you identify your issues you cannot work out a solution so spend some time on this task.

The beginning of a new year is always a great time to start.

Write down all the things that you dislike about your business and all the things you like. You will be surprised how once you see it in black and white how easy it will be to make it better.

Common stressful issues in a business are the attitude of staff.

This is totally fixable. Call a staff meeting and explain that you have spent some time thinking about all the things that contribute to stress over the last year. List them out on a white board it may even shock some of your staff.

Outline what your expectations are going forward.

Leave the past in the past and move forward. Tell your staff loud and clear that you will not be sitting here next year and have the same issues. Attitude is underrated but the effect is enormous. People react badly if they are faced with bad attitude daily. Remove the attitude and replace with respect and the whole culture in your business will change. However, some people can’t change so it may end up you needing to move on the culprit. Immediately you will see the effect.

Encourage your team to outline their issues also and make sure you have empathy.

While you can’t change everything, you will be able to change some things. It’s usually the little things that effect the performance of staff. At some stage in your life someone probably said treat people the way you want to be treated. You might need to remind your team of this. Abuse comes in all shapes and forms. Nip that in the bud immediately, set the tone to a high level and make sure there are seen consequences if abusive dialog is happening daily.

It’s often said it’s better in a crowd, and this is what collaboration is all about.

One person with an idea and then a group joining forces. There are various examples of how collaboration works well for retailing it could also work for transport companies. A good example is businesses such as the 100% Electrical Group, by collaborating small appliance stores they then can negotiate a better purchasing price, which makes them more competitive. If you can form a collaboration with another company this may be your way of exiting your business when you get to retirement.

Building relationships is another form of collaboration.

Its often talked about how networking can be beneficial for you and your business. Many problems, and the daily issues of running a business, are common with other businesses. Networking with similar businesses is a way you can flesh out a suitable partner for collaboration.

The upside is a few hours of your time to connect with a business group could result in a long-term collaboration agreement with another entity. Ideas can be shared, and problems can be discussed. It’s always better sometimes just to verbalise an issue.

Here are some hot tips on how to get started 

Collaboration

  1. Create a vision for your business: Establish a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve, rather than thinking of ways to get one over your competitor.
  2. Establish who your competitors are: Write a list of companies in the same space as your business. Whatever draws customers away from your business is your competitor. By establishing the competition, you can begin to establish what business will make an ideal collaborator.
  3. Participate in professional associations: Joining a well-established trade group such as the NZ Trucking Association gives you opportunities for introductions and if you actively take part in the associations activities you begin to earn respect amongst the other members.
  4. Name what is causing pain: Defining your business challenges is a huge step forward to solving the issues.
  5. Keep your eye on your competitors: Be aware of what your competitor’s activities are. With social media and the internet, it is easy to access information.

At NZ Trucking Association the team have a wealth of business and industry experience. Give them a call today and find out how we can help your business grow and prosper.

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