Challenges that relate to building and sustaining successful collaborations at the interpersonal level:

  • Differing schedules of providers,
  • Being uninformed  about  the collaboration,
  • Collaboration aims,
  • Knowing who to talk to,
  • Individual roles.

Varying and busy schedules can be a challenge! This may become evident when you are trying to set up meetings for your collaboration.

Public Health ManagerA public health manager: “I see it all the time when we try to set up public health and primary care collaboration meetings. With our different schedules and the very busy work program, it is a great challenge to plan collaboration meetings. You need to be creative, tenacious, and accommodating to meet everyone’s needs so that they are satisfied. But, bottom line, the collaboration is worth it!

Disagreeing at meetingFailure to communicate 
Failure to communicate about the collaboration’s goals, members’ roles, and lines of communication can also become a challenge in collaborations. Decisions regarding these broader organizational issues typically happen at the organizational level, so they should be communicated at the organizational level.

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Related: Strategic Coordination and Communication Mechanisms between Partners

However, it is important to ensure that communication around the goals, roles, and lines of communication also occur between individuals, at the interpersonal level, in relation to day to day issues that arise in the collaboration.

ListenClick to hear this social worker explain his lack of understanding about the goals and roles of individuals in the collaboration that are related to organizational level factors but are experienced at the interpersonal level.

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People smiling at meetingAddressing this challenge is important.
Taking the time to introduce all the members to each other, including clearly explaining their roles, is a great first step. The goal(s) and aim(s) of the collaboration and how each person relates to them should be front and centre in our communication. Clear communication strategies and contact information could be part of a collaboration’s terms of reference.

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 Related: Clear Mandates, Visions, and Goals for Collaboration


Lack of a common lack language among people within the organization is the final challenge. We need to understand each other, and understand what it is that we are communicating.

For example, terms such as population health, primary health care, and public health are often understood differently. That is a significant challenge.

ListenClick here to listen to this primary care team member explain this challenge.


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