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Honestly, working with other people is not my strong suit. I’ve always preferred doing everything myself. While working on a podcast with a couple of my friends over the last four months, I internalised three valuable lessons about working with other people and what makes a collaboration awesome!
I’ve hinted upon this one in the Midweek Nudge that went out on the 15th of July, where I quoted Ray Dalio’s principle:
Great collaboration feels like Jazz.Ray Dalio
However, while that talks about the feeling of the entire thing, I wanted to touch specific lessons that I learned.
These lessons might come in handy if you are starting a new project with a fresh team or just working for the first time with people you’ve known for long.
I was in the latter boat when we began working on Let’s Ask My Friends.
So, without much ado, here are the three things that I learned about working with other people.
This one took me a long time to internalize. In some ways, I have taken my entire life to accept that there is no one way to work correctly as long as you are getting the work done.
Over the last decade, I’ve become more result-oriented than process-oriented.
I think that has a lot to do with working in a company where the leadership was usually result-oriented. I do believe that is the better way to go about it instead of emphasizing on process
That’s a lot of jargon, though, to say this plainly:
If someone gets it done, let them do it how they do it.
Anecdote: For example, I’m a day worker unless the tasks are long in which case, I’m a night worker too. I still prefer working during the day. Another person in our team is someone who prefers to work at night. By the time we reached the launch day, all of us were aware of when someone gets up in the morning and what their general routine is, and that wasn’t a hurdle at all anymore.
The 70% Delegation Rule
Now, this is something I failed at while working on the podcast, but I also feel that I couldn’t apply it as such in those specific scenarios.
The 70% rule suggests that if you want to delegate a task and if you don’t have enough bandwidth, you should be okay with someone who achieves 70% of what you intended to accomplish with the task.
The reason for this is that if someone is competent with that particular thing, you should save everyone’s time and delegate it. However, I still have trouble with this one even though I know that this works now.
Trusting others with things you only trust yourself with is a sign of great collaboration.
Anecdote: When we were inching toward launch, I was doing all the social media creatives and copywriting.
There were multiple occasions when the team asked me if they wanted me to shed some of that load off and delegate the tasks to them. However, I insisted that I’ll do it.
We initially had a more extended plan to create the hype surrounding the podcast. That didn’t happen because we were a day late. In hindsight, I should’ve delegated some of those tasks.
Everyone was above the 70% threshold for that rule anyway. So, the responsibility for messing up there is definitely on me.
Play Everyone’s Strengths
Each person brings a particular set of tools to the table. Even more specific is the subset of their strengths in those tools.
For example, even though I can use a bit of Audacity, I cannot edit an entire episode on Audition yet because I don’t have the experience. That’s another person’s strength.
When you start acknowledging strengths in a team, it’s easier to divide work quickly. Also, the acknowledging of strengths should be public, and everyone should be on the same page.
Even when you’re deciding stuff, the opinion of someone who has a strength should almost always trump what the others have to say about it.
Once that happens, the collaboration is like Jazz.
Anecdote: From the get-go, we knew what each person was good at, which in turn made our collaboration smooth. To add to that, we also acknowledged these strengths early-on by saying that our team was well-rounded.
Our tasks quickly divided into Audio, Social and Logistics. Although it is right now that I’ve given these labels, the general understanding was the same.
- From every issue to combining audio tracks goes to one person who knows their shit. Their opinion on anything audio is above the others’.
- The same goes for social media, setting the website up and so on. That’s my purview because I’ve done that a million times by now.
- Logistics, managing time, controlling meetings etc. are the third person’s responsibilities because they manage stuff professionally.
Thus, our three-person team is perfect.
It isn’t easy to work with other people. It can get excruciating, especially if you’re used to doing everything alone. However, it’s important to remember that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. So, when you work on a collaboration bigger than yourself, you need a team. When you make one, remember to play on strengths, to delegate and to be result-oriented, though.
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