You may have heard the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work.” But working with others to accomplish something doesn’t just magically happen. To keep team members focused and reach your goal, you need to have a good collaboration strategy.

This is especially true when collaborating with someone you’ve never worked with before. For example, my 7-year-old son (and budding violinist) Ben needed to prepare for an upcoming recital with a new teacher (a pianist).

The challenge: Ben wouldn’t have a chance to rehearse with his duet partner until two days before the recital. Yikes!

So Ben and his teacher came up with a plan. Ben and his duet partner would each practice so they both would be comfortable with the piece. Then the musical duo would meet in person for a quick rehearsal prior to the recital.

The plan worked great! During the rehearsal, Ben and his teacher came up with little nonverbal cues (a look or a nod) to signal they were in sync. And when it came time to perform on stage, Ben felt totally confident performing with his new partner.

As a musician myself (a guitarist and singer), I can relate to the challenges of playing with others. And as graphic designer for Davis & Company, I face similar challenges working with colleagues and clients on projects (especially those working remotely).

How can you collaborate effectively with teams? Here are five suggestions:

1. Host a kick-off meeting
Get the whole team together to discuss what you want to accomplish, assign roles and responsibilities and decide on how you will work together.

2. Create a project plan
Develop an approach that includes timing of key milestones and deliverables and who is responsible for each task leading up to the final deadline.

3. Have frequent check-ins
Schedule weekly or bi-weekly meetings (15 to 30 minutes) to touch base on what each team member is working on and what he or she needs to keep things moving.

4. Make time to connect face-to-face
I know it’s not easy to meet in person when so many people work remotely these days, but it’s a great way to form deeper connections with your team members.

5. Keep remote team members connected
When your team needs to collaborate virtually, make sure you establish what collaboration tools you’ll use (such as social media or web meetings) and some ground rules on how you’ll use them.

Having a great collaboration strategy isn’t just about making your deadline. It’s about building mutual respect and trust—knowing that your team members have your back when you need it.

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