Collaboration overall is a fun experience. With multiple parties bringing each of their abilities to the table, a decent program can easily become a good one. However, with the wrong choices, collaboration can be not so fun at times. While everyone has their own style and approach to collaborative programming, there are certain things to do that can help ensure success in programming.
Consider the following…
Decide who can help you the most with your idea: Knowing the goals of your program is always an excellent start, but when you’re working with another person or group, you should reach a little farther. If you’re doing a specific program, make sure that you know what you’re getting into by picking certain parties or groups. Do your research beforehand, so that you know all the right people to ask for help.
Plan early; ask earlier: If you want to find other people to work with you, you have to consider their needs and demands. Most groups (especially if they’re professional ones) need to know well in advance before your program takes place. When you know what your idea is, make sure you gather the right resources as soon as possible— It’ll save you a lot of stress down the line.
Make sure your wants and needs are explained early on: As a student ordering food, it’s usually pretty disappointing when you get an order that’s quite different from what you requested. When you’re receiving assistance for a program, it can be disappointing when you don’t get what you expect as well. To minimize this risk, be clear from the start as to what you’ll need. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for those who are helping to meet your requests.
Try to stay on the same page: If you’re planning well ahead for a larger program, make sure there are constant lines of communication between yourself and everyone else working with you. The larger the program is, the more thorough these lines must be. For a small program, a couple of phone calls and emails will do, but for larger events, you will need to have more than that (meetings, for example). By doing this, you ensure that all information continues to circulate throughout those involved, so that the best job can be done.
When the day arrives…Relax: While easier said than done, relaxing when the event takes place is the best plan for you. If you’ve done a good job planning so far, it will show when the program takes place. If one or two mistakes occur, don’t get aggressive with those who have helped you plan— those people working with you will probably not react too well. Instead take a step back, and try to resolve the issue calmly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a breather and try again.
Say Thanks! This isn’t noted enough, but is crucial to closing a program on a high note. Whether you got help from a freshman that knows how to juggle or a nationally respected organization, all groups will appreciate it when you take the time to thank them. A simple email, or a nice note mailed to them will do the job. For special thanks…consider sending a balloon or two with a note attached, or an inexpensive floral arrangement. Regardless of your choice, saying thank you helps others feel like they did a good job, and will help put you in good standing, should you decide to work with them again.
Every group is different, just as every program is different as well. Regardless, proper planning prevents poor performance. As a collaborator, this lesson becomes crucial. Overall, just remember to ask for help early; to keep them informed of things, and to make sure that individuals feel appreciated, and each program you do will be that much better!
Submitted by Dennis McIver, Community Development Assistant, University of Maryland, Baltimore County