The Government of Canada’s Skills for Success model defines collaboration as “your ability to contribute and support others to achieve a common goal.”
In the today’s workplace, you’ll often work in teams with people who have different backgrounds, personalities, and skill sets. The better you can work and communicate with others, the easier it is to achieve common goals—and the stronger the results.
Collaboration is 1 of the 9 skills identified in the Government of Canada’s Skills for Success model. Launched in 2021, this model updates the original Essential Skills framework to reflect changes in the Canadian labour market and the modern workplace.
Whether you’re working on a school project, leading a project at work, or interacting with friends and family, collaboration skills are key to getting things done and building win-win relationships.
What does collaboration include?
The Skills for Success model divides collaboration into 6 components:
- Work well with other people. Build trust. Follow social and organizational rules Be on time. Encourage supportive and cooperative behaviours, language, and attitudes.
- Value diversity and inclusivity. People with different cultures, backgrounds, and abilities can have different customs, values, and ways of thinking and acting. Let fresh perspectives open up new possibilities.
- Manage difficult interactions with other people. Look out for and address sources of disagreement. Discuss, negotiate, and resolve difficult interactions in a sensitive and helpful way.
- Contribute to an environment where you can collaborate with others. Understand and adapt to the needs, strengths, and weaknesses of others. Support others through coaching, mentoring, and motivating.
- Achieve a common goal. Take responsibility for your input, completing tasks, and managing risks and resources. Consult and share with others, giving them opportunities to contribute.
- Reflect and improve on teamwork. Evaluate team performance, make constructive suggestions for improvement, and act on feedback you receive.
Your proficiency level is your ability to work with others in different situations. As you build your collaboration skills, you’ll be able to:
- Work with larger, more diverse groups of people
- Work with a group to reach more complex goals
- Be more responsible for motivating others, managing conflict, and improving teamwork
Start Now to Build the Skills Employers Want
The Skills for Success model defines 3 levels of collaboration: entry, intermediate, and advanced. Here are examples of what your collaboration skills might look like at each level:
- Entry. At a weekly team meeting, you and your co-workers share progress updates on individual tasks. You help out with any issues that have come up.
- Intermediate level. A colleague at your workplace needs your help to write a product description. You must explain the product features clearly and provide feedback to make sure the final description is accurate.
- Advanced level. You are in charge of leading a complex project involving several different teams in your company. To keep the project on track, you need to coordinate, motivate, and evaluate the efforts of the diverse team members.
Collaboration skills in action
Consider some examples of how people in different occupations apply collaboration skills:
- Residential construction site managers coordinate the work of tradespeople and suppliers to construct homes and buildings.
- Special event coordinators collaborate with vendors, clients, sponsors, and other groups to plan and produce conferences, meetings, seminars, exhibitions, trade shows, festivals, fundraisers, and other special events.
- Software engineers collaborate with system users and testers, designers, technical writers, and product managers to build and maintain software applications.
Know Your Core Skills and How to Sell Them
Here are some strategies to keep in mind as you collaborate with others:
- Share knowledge and expertise freely. Do what you can to help others grow and succeed. Consider becoming a mentor to junior team members.
- Give constructive feedback and be open to receiving it from others. Use feedback to identify areas for improvement and work together to find solutions.
- Participate in team-building exercises. Many organizations offer activities that help build trust and cooperation between team members.
- Embrace diversity. Seek out opportunities to learn from people with different backgrounds. Actively seek to understand others, asking questions and showing empathy.
- Lead by example. Model positive behaviours, such as sharing credit, compromising, and being open to feedback.
- Be proactive in addressing conflict. Deal with issues as they happen, rather than avoiding the problem.
- Be generous with praise and gratitude. If someone is doing a great job—or makes your job easier—say so! Everybody likes to feel appreciated.
Online learning courses
Improve your core skills at home by taking online courses. Online learning offers courses covering a wide range of topics, and some platforms offer free courses or free trials. Find out what your options are by searching these online learning sites for the skills you want to build:
Check out these resources to help you assess and build your collaboration skills:
- Download the Skills for Success Work Ready Youth Program collaboration workbook for a wide range of information, tips, and exercises.
- Try the Skills Canada essential skills test on working with others and the alis skills quiz.
- Work through the ABC Skills Hub online collaboration course, which covers building trust, resolving conflict, and working with remote teams. You can also download the Get Started collaboration workbook [pdf].
- Review alis articles to brush up on your conflict resolution.
- Search online for books, podcasts, and videos using keywords like “conflict resolution,” “leadership,” and “diversity.”
Explore the Skills for Success model
Although particular skills may be more important in some jobs than others, all 9 skills in the Skills for Success model are needed for most occupations. And these skills are not just about work—they come into play throughout our lives, forming a foundation for other technical and life skills, knowledge, and relationships.
Develop Your Core Skills and Traits
Learn about the other skills for success:
- Creativity and innovation
- Problem solving
Skills for Success: Collaboration (1:03)
Many jobs require you to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Collaboration skills help you support and value others, no matter who they are or where they’re from. They help you perform better in a team. They help you work with people of all ages to complete tasks and solve problems. Strong collaboration skills help you manage difficult interactions. They help you build positive relationships with others—at work, in school, and in other parts of your life.