4 Qualities of Good Collaborators


There’s no “I” in “Startup.” In its very nature, a company managed by a small group of people requires a great deal of teamwork. In a startup, working towards the same goal is exponentially more important than individual achievement. Collaboration is necessary in order to reach business goals, and it requires a particular skill set.

Take a look at a typical startup office space: open floor plans, large shared desks, couches, and door-optional conference rooms. Collaboration is not only encouraged, but mandatory, when you can only avoid seeing coworkers by closing your eyes. This social workplace is an essential part of the company’s mission to meet the needs of customers.

While each member of a startup team has their own job and day to day tasks, they are each working towards the same goal, so their efforts need to be coordinated in order to be effective. Directors, marketers, programmers, and designers don’t need to know how to do one another’s jobs, but they should know how to take a teammate’s work and connect it to their own.

Collaboration is more than just talking. Here are just a few of the important skills that are necessary for efficient collaboration:

1. Communication:

This is the most basic, and most important, skill necessary for collaboration. Talking to your team requires you to know what to say and how to say it, so that everyone understands what you’re doing and what you need them to do.

For example, if you’re creating the company’s website, how can you decide on the best design without knowing what the marketing team is putting on the website? The result would be a jumble of the team’s work attempting to convey a message to customers that could have been significantly better quality, had all the parts worked together to make a whole.

2. Open Mindedness:

The ability to see from others perspectives is beneficial for the team and for you as an individual. In many cases, just because something works for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone else. Back to the web design example: you may be proud of your design, but if it doesn’t work for what the marketing team is trying to put online, you need to be open to suggestions. After all, your ultimate goal is to provide the best experience for customers.

3. Confidence:

While it is important to listen to teammates, you also must be confident enough to respectfully argue for your ideas and speak up in a group. Each teammate must not only do work, but also contribute his or her own ideas. A member who lacks confidence risks sitting in the back doing what others tell them to do, rather than getting involved and making a difference.

4. Goal-Oriented:

When working on a team, especially with coworkers (who are often your friends), it can be easy to get distracted. It’s not an issue to be friendly with your team; collaboration works even better when you get along with others. However, it is important to keep focus on the task at hand to avoid wasting time and ensure deadlines are met.

Working in a team can be hard for someone who is used to solo projects, but when applying for jobs at a startup, it’s critical to demonstrate your ability to work on a team. Learning these skills, among others, early on and sharpening them over time will make a significant difference in your job prospects.

The Startup Institute’s 8-week core program can help you sharpen these skills and more, and there are still spots open in Boston, New York City, and Chicago for the summer session starting June 23rd. Learn more at our website, and apply here.


Post by Dylan Manley, Content Marketing Associate at Startup Institute Boston. Find him on Twitter at @dcm510