Grapes and avocados are both fruit. But would you replace an avocado with a grape in your guacamole recipe? Would you make avocado wine? Grapes and avocados–and apples, pomegranates, and star fruits–all bring something delicious and unique to the table.
In the same way, people approach work with different perspectives, habits, and hacks. These different flavors of work can pair well with each other; but it’s not as simple as throwing together a fruit salad.
Our #FruitfulWork series is all about learning how to collaborate more—well—fruitfully with your colleagues. Check out our first Fruitful Work blog for a quick overview.
To help you on your way, we’re asking experts in productivity and organization how they do their best work. Here are some quick tips to help your efforts bear more fruit.
Provide fertile soil for ideas to grow
Maura Nevel Thomas is a productivity trainer, author, and speaker. Though it may seem counterintuitive for a professional speaker, Thomas says: “I’ve always found the advice to ‘listen more, talk less’ to be invaluable in almost any situation. I find I can be most useful when I offer structure and keep things on track, but otherwise let others do most of the talking.”
As a big-picture thinker, Thomas relies on the whole team to put together a practical roadmap. “We take our ‘big picture,’ the range of ideas, the many implementation steps, and look to put them into an organized, step-by-step process that is easily actionable,” she says.
Cross-pollinate for better results
John Cicero is the senior product marketing manager of evangelism & readiness at Smartsheet. Even though he may have the biggest personality in the room, he wants to work with everyone: “Leveraging comments and proofing makes sure all people can provide their insight and poke holes to get to the best solution.”
Ken Okel agrees. He is a productivity expert, speaker, author, and–if you’ve seen him speak it will come as no surprise–a natural-born leader. Okel says,
“It’s important for me to make sure that people know I want your ideas, I want your expertise. Just because I’m very enthusiastic about my ideas—I may have even written a song about them because I’m so excited—that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear what they think. Because ultimately the goal is to have the best answer to whatever challenge that we’re facing. It might not be mine… A good idea may come from an unexpected place. I am more than happy to embrace it.”
Tend to your garden and it will tend to you
Olivia Spokoiny, a sales engineering onboarding manager at Smartsheet, offers that when working through a problem, she seeks input from across her organization: “I focus on collecting as much information as possible to find the best solution. Part of that is making sure I don't make decisions in a vacuum.” She seeks feedback “early and often to ensure I am considering all perspectives, including the emotional side of things.” This sets her up to do the best work for herself and for her team.
Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine
Erin Harlan, senior manager of product marketing at Smartsheet, recommends starting from an assumption that you never have the full story. “Bringing more of the right people into the conversation can help put the bigger picture together,” she says.
Spokoiny also recommends maintaining awareness of your own limitations and to embrace bringing in others to help you.
“If I don't understand the big picture, I may have trouble prioritizing. I encourage those collaborating with me to communicate openly and honestly. After all, my main goal is to remove obstacles for the team as much as I can.”
Don’t pick fruit before it’s ripe
Okel also cautions about taking action too quickly. When he’s excited about an idea, he’s prone to jumping headfirst into the work without stopping to think it through. His advice is summed up in two words: “Anything else?” This gives permission for the quieter people in the room to offer their feedback. “Often, there’s something I’ve missed, something that’s important. ‘Anything else?’ opens the door to not making a mistake,” he says.
Fruit salad is always a good choice
Just as eating a variety of fruits is good for the body, considering advice and perspectives from each of the fruits is good for the mind. Whether it’s a change in your work style or a better appreciation for how a teammate approaches their role, the perspectives represented here will help you and your colleagues produce more #FruitfulWork.