Getting the Work Done

6.A Accomplish the Work of the Collaboration

Successful collaborations involve all partners in accomplishing activities. In order to achieve shared results, partners must define the roles and responsibilities and reporting mechanisms for getting the work done. There should also be clear incentives and consequences for partners that aren’t fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.

Who is responsible for the work of the collaboration?
If you’ve done your work to identify and nurture the right partners, then they should all be able to participate in some way in the coordination and implementation of the activities. A collaboration manager or coordinator can play a vital role by helping partners to participate effectively and by ensuring the work gets done the right way and on time. They should be skilled in managing projects, establishing, implementing and monitoring systems and protocols, and facilitating or mediating complex negotiations.
How do we communicate clear reporting relationships?
Every collaboration should have a written understanding about roles and responsibilities. Many collaborations capture this understanding in a clear terms of reference and in a collaboration agreement. When clarifying employment relationships related to the collaboration, partners should outline who staff are employed and managed by; who is responsible for salary, pension, insurance and other coverage; and how performance evaluation will be done.
How do partners hold each other accountable for delivering on commitments?
You can’t hold partners accountable for results and expectations unless they’ve been engaged in their development and the success indicators are well understood, measurable and achievable. Remember to put clear incentives in place to motivate partners to fulfill expectations as well as transparent and fair consequences for not meeting them.
Being Realistic About What it Will Take
Community service hubs aim to bring people in communities together, connect them to the services they need, and foster the development of resident leadership and innovative service delivery collaborations. One hub coordinator learned all too quickly that partner agency and funder expectations were difficult to achieve given available resources. The lead organization, a community health centre, dedicated large amounts of staff time and resources to retrofit the building and foster the initial collaborations. Executive directors of the other partner agencies had positive intentions for collaboration, but were not able to commit the necessary time and resources to make it happen. The co-ordinator knew that for the hub to be successful partners would need to invest the time and resources required to build strong relationships and pursue new initiatives that promote collaboration.
Aligning Resources for Shared Benefit
A childcare family access network in an underserved community mobilized partners to create programs for parents and children. After much negotiation, program partners realized an unmet need by aligning available resources. Various partners contributed a combination of funds, staff, space, food, supplies and equipment

The collaboration was deemed so important that the local school principal went door to door in the community introducing the new staff of the program.

(Adapted from the Integrated Hub Model description, Rural Voices, 2005)

Joint Investments in Community Outcomes
Three community organizations came together to discuss what they could do to address the recent increase in teen violence. They each offered to find out what strategies their staff teams were using in their own work with clients and to share that information with each other. After a few more meetings, they agreed to seek out other key leaders in the community who were interested in investigating the problems. Those discussions led to the commitment of resources to offer joint parent information sessions that were well attended and received. Following this success the pooled funds to hire a grant writer for a collaboration funding application for specialized parent outreach and education programming. One lead organization managed the funds, while others hired the staff, committed space for the new program, and provided staff and volunteer training. Two years later the collaboration is sharing two workers for the initiative, and 11 other organizations within the community have participated by pooling resources for various activities.

(Adapted from North Etobicoke Collaboration Toolkit, Nayar Consulting, 2010)