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Career Development

The Increasing Importance of Collaboration

Larry Doty
April 14, 2016

This blog post is part three in a six-part series by Larry Doty examining how new graduates can compete and excel in a global economy.

If you are talented in a lot of areas but can’t work well with other people, it’s going to be tough to achieve long-term success. After all, everyone knows smart people who have trouble working as part of a team. The reality is that companies expect every employee to work well independently and to collaborate with others, depending on a project’s needs. 

Many organizations are moving toward more integrated, team-based models. In a story by Rob Cross, a professor of management at the University of Virginia, in the Harvard Business Review, he notes that “the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more.”

Cross also comments on the need for balance. He found that in many cases a small percentage of employees are identified as strong collaborators and end up doing a disproportionate share of a team’s workload. He suggests that companies can adjust collaboration expectations accordingly, which would in turn mean that the majority of employees could benefit from being better team members.  

The shift toward collaborative practices also reveals itself in office design. More organizations are veering away from the idea of working in closed off offices at isolated desks, so it has never been more important for new graduates to be able to prove they can work effectively in collaborative settings.

"Having a positive attitude and open-minded approach with colleagues, managers and clients can dramatically impact your productivity." 

Furthermore, remember that every day you have the opportunity to impact someone in a positive manner when you work together. Having a positive attitude and open-minded approach with colleagues, managers and clients can dramatically impact your productivity. When you work well with others they will work harder to help you succeed. Exceling employees are people who make others around them better!

Earning someone’s trust and proving your ability to consistently collaborate could directly contribute to advancing your career. A recommendation from a mentor or former employer who has seen your ability to be an effective team member firsthand can carry a lot of weight when you pursue a new opportunity. People who are talented at their job and working in a collaborative environment may also be pursued by colleagues who have received opportunities with other organizations.  Positive and productive collaboration expands your network beyond being an acquaintance.

Consistently making a concerted effort to work well with others and understanding their needs will immediately allow you to stand out among your peers. However, if you can’t adapt to the growing emphasis on collaboration, you may just get left behind.

Since 2008, Larry Doty has been appointed to various positions of leadership at Herzing University including Academic Dean, Director of Education and Educational Funding, and Senior System Undergraduate Dean.  Larry Doty currently serves as the Associate Provost of Academic Support for Herzing University.  During his time at the Minneapolis campus, Mr. Doty successfully provided oversight to multiple accreditation initiatives at the programmatic and institutional level. He quickly developed a reputation for developing high performing teams and exceeding institutional expectations in areas such as budgeting and planning, team development, and student retention. 


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