• Janeen Shaffer, PCC

Tips for working with peers and teams that invite collaboration and proactive behavior

My clients have been discussing the need to act more deliberatively with their peers and teams as the pace of change and shifts in priorities keep operating at a break-neck speed. What changes could you make to adjust to frequent changes and priority shifts in a way that invites more collaboration and proactive behavior? Here are some tips to consider.


1. Share more context and invite more collaboration – Many leaders want to create an environment for their team that supports their growth, helps them stay focused on priorities, and protects them from internal politics and roadblocks so that their work remains productive. Good intentions can come with unintended consequences. If leaders only share information about tasks but don’t share context around the organization’s priorities, challenges, and cultural “norms,” this can impact the team’s effectiveness and credibility. One step you could take is to share more with the team about leadership perceptions and challenges that are getting in the way of the team accomplishing goals. Invite them to discuss possible solutions and actions to move forward. An example could look like this:

  • “Hello team, I want to talk about the upcoming board meeting. There have been discussions with me that they would like more information on membership and programs. I want to share with you that they have a perception that our organization could be more assertive and innovative around attracting new members and enhancing existing programs. I believe we have been doing exceptional work over the last two years, especially around pivoting quickly to offer all our programs online. Also, we are offering new programs that address our members’ challenges with the pandemic and are attracting new members. However, my perception is not matching the board. I take accountability for this gap and believe I should share this information more with you so that we have the opportunity to work together to brainstorm ideas and develop solutions around how to better inform and engage the board in the transformational work we’ve created. I believe we can shift their perception, but if I do it alone, it will take longer and may not be as effective as if we do it together as a collective leadership team. I look forward to hearing your ideas.”

2. Invite accountability and requests – If your leader continues to pull you into additional projects and efforts that fall outside your day-to-day responsibilities, consider how to utilize your team and peers to assist you in the assignments.

  • One example with a peer could be, “Jasmine has asked me to develop a report that collects our client accomplishments over the last quarter for the executive leadership team. I could use help with streamlining the report information. You are good at narrowing down information for an executive report. I’d love to have your support and outline how we can partner together on this. I recommended this to Jasmine, and she thought it was a great idea to explore with you. What do you think?” An example with a direct report could be, “I’ve been asked to create a report for the Executive Committee. I’m going to be very focused on completing this request. You’ve mentioned that you’d like to present team information at the internal ops meeting whenever there is an opportunity. There is an ops meeting later this week. I wondered if you could take the lead on pulling information together and presenting this week. I’ll be in attendance with you. If you agree, then we’ll put a plan together so you feel prepared and ready. What do you think?

3. Express gratitude – Most people have found that they’ve needed to jump into the new year with roller blades on, rolling quickly with the hectic pace. When juggling multiple priorities, meetings, and stakeholders, we may forget to take a moment and share gratitude. This gesture shows other’s validation and recognition, which is extremely important in generating trust, motivation, and collaboration.

  • One example with a team member could be, “Thank you for covering the meeting for me this morning. I appreciate you jumping in at the last minute and handling it so well. I’ve already received some compliments on how you pulled the conversation together and got the group focused.” Another example with a peer could be, “Thank you for listening to my ideas on possible solutions with this complicated project. You helped me streamline my ideas and think of other solutions that I believe will be helpful to move the project forward. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom and time. Know that I will gladly return the favor whenever it is needed.”

It’s hard to remember to lift your head and look at possible ways to make things happen when the list is long, and priorities shift constantly. I hope the article reminds you of ways to effectively leverage what’s available to you. Leaders are responsible for setting the tone around strategy, solutions, and looking ahead. You don’t have to do those activities alone, and when you include others, you deepen the collective team’s knowledge, experience, and capability.


Janeen Shaffer is a PCC certified coach helping individuals and leaders with their internal development and external performance. If the article resonated with you, follow me on LinkedIn and check my other articles. Contact me at janeen@shaffercoach.com, IG @janeen.shaffer, Pinterest Shaffer Coaching + Consulting.

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