How to Collaborate to Avoid Burnout: 3 Tips for Partnering with an Agency

“No matter what type of organization you are, we wholeheartedly believe in the ability to work together across disciplines in ways that are both helpful and gratifying to your team.”
Amelia Gray

In workplace culture, people talk a lot about collaboration these days. Why is collaboration so important? It can boost innovation, bolster productivity, help your team learn flexibility, and even keep you all healthy—just to name a few perks. But one of the clearest benefits is collaborating to avoid burnout.

Every growing organization faces a day when they just don’t quite know what to do with themselves. Maybe you’re reaching a wider group of people, expanding your services, or bringing more people onto your team—things you didn’t imagine your organization having the capacity for not too long ago. And, as exciting as this is, new growth brings new challenges—you could call them organizational growing pains.

If you keep going at this rate, you might find yourself spread too thin. Depending on your organization, the responsibility can either rest on one or two people or spread to the whole team, leading to burnout in the long run. If yours is a mission-driven organization, it was probably born out of a passion for a particular mission. And, when it feels like all your effort is directed toward things that—even though they’re essential for any organization to thrive—seem unrelated to your mission, it can be confusing to try to find a way forward.

One of the most straightforward ways to counteract feeling overwhelmed is to team up with people who can help you with specialized tasks, whether that’s marketing, customer service, administrative work, IT, accounting—you name it. Partnering with an agency is one of the best ways to collaborate to avoid burnout.    

 

Collaboration that Doesn’t Avoid Burnout

But let’s make sure we’re on the same page—collaboration just for collaboration’s sake probably won’t get you very far. Have you ever been part of a collaborative project where one person—if it was you, we won’t tell—ended up running the show just for simplicity’s sake?

Add to that, apparently the amount that we’re collaborating in the workplace has expanded by at least 50% in the last 20 years or so. While there are clear benefits to working with others, new challenges—such as indecision, conflict, or lack of clarity—tend to surface as well. As you bring more people into the mix, there’s more room for growth, but there is also more uncertainty. If your team isn’t able to recognize these challenges, their ineffective collaboration can become something that not only fails to avoid burnout but actually fuels it.    

 

Collaboration that Avoids Burnout

Despite these challenges, there are ways to work toward thoughtful collaboration that  can bring relief to an overworked team, as well as fresh ideas. No matter what type of organization you are, we wholeheartedly believe in the ability to work together across disciplines in ways that are both helpful and gratifying to your team, so we’ve put together a few tips for collaboration that avoids burnout. They’re true for any type of collaboration, but we kept in mind teams who are wondering how to make the most of their partnership with an agency.    

 

Plan How You’ll Communicate

Think about a time that a parent or grandparent got onto you for not checking your home phone messages. Did you have to break it to them that you only use that number for discounts at the drugstore? In the same way, when teaming up with an agency, you can make the most of your partnership by creating a clear plan for your communication.

Communication can be a bit of a buzzword in the workplace. We all know it’s important, no doubt, but what does this mean practically? Here are a few questions you may want to ask:

  • What is the best way for our team to communicate with you?
  • Will you schedule regular meetings about our progress or should we check in with you periodically?
  • When is the best time to reach you?
  • When questions come up, who is our point person?

Questions will come up, so make sure you have answers about how, when, and who to call—that is, unless you’ve agreed on smoke signals.    

 

Be Honest About Your Needs

Being upfront about your needs—especially technical things like budget and timeline—is one of the easiest ways to make the most out of a partnership with an agency. Take it from us, a creative agency. We understand that you have needs. And empowering you to live out your mission more fully is actually what gives our work meaning, so we want to do everything we can to work within your means.

In the world of project management, the “scope triangle” sketches out the tradeoffs when talking about a project’s quality—scope, budget, and timeline. For example, with a meager budget and short notice, your project’s scope is probably not going to be too expansive. On the other hand, if you have an extensive project but you’ve got a lot of time to develop it, it won’t break the bank as much as if you needed it next week.

Many smaller or developing organizations collaborate with agencies because they are spread too thin and might be approaching the edge of burnout. Being honest about the scope, timeline, and budget of your needs can help build healthy collaboration that avoids burnout because it brings a sense of clarity to your work.    

 

Don’t Be Shy

Sometimes when small organizations collaborate with experts, they automatically default to the agency they’re working with. Outside opinions become ultimate opinions. But the best collaborations are partnerships built on trust. Both your team and the agency you’ve chosen have things to learn from and to teach each other. They may be experts on trends and best practices, but you’re an expert on who you are and the people you’re trying to reach.

Especially when it comes to marketing, the more your partner understands your brand, goals, and vision, the more tailored and effective their marketing will be. Once they understand you, they can give meaningful feedback and redirect misaligned efforts. So don’t be shy—we’ve got things to learn from you! When you’re a small or developing organization, the idea of outsourcing tasks to an agency can seem daunting—we get that. But collaboration that avoids burnout is really about finding a partner you can trust. When you’re burned out (or headed that direction) it can be difficult to find ways to “get the job done” while staying true to your mission. If your team could use some extra support, our marketing and communications retainers are a simple way to partner with our team, so you have the services and support you need without giving up the flexibility to make important decisions.

Amelia Gray
Amenable Alumna
Amelia loves connecting with people through language by finding the right word for the right moment. She hopes that sharing her creative process will help other people be confident in their own. In her spare time, you can find her birdwatching or developing her Spanish.
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