Calgary’s Dr. Vivek Cheba on How to Create a Collaborative Work Environment

Collaboration became a key, cornerstone word of the global COVID-19 reality. When personal protective equipment was in short supply for frontline workers, seamstresses rallied, generating millions of masks. When people were struck ill with the virus, millions more people stepped up and delivered food to those in quarantine. While the virus presented an ugly truth and fully exposed human vulnerability, it also showed some of the best aspects of humanity. When the chips are down – humans step up and help each other be resilient. 


“I have been continually impressed by my staff and their ability to have open discussions, face challenges together, and find solutions that are beneficial to our staff, and to the business as a whole,” said Dr. Vivek Cheba, a Certified Orthodontic Specialist in Calgary who has helped lead a number of dental clinics during his career. 

“The crisis has been challenging for everyone and our offices are going to be helping a lot of patients get their dental health back on track after COVID impacted their care. Maintaining a collaborative approach is going to be paramount as we move forward,” he said. 

Much has been learned during this uncharted journey through COVID and – no doubt – the lessons garnered can and should translate into the regular world. Greater kindness and heightened awareness of the importance of positive interactions can facilitate real change and have a domino effect within organizations. 

Collaboration means chipping away at negative office politics. It means that employees will bolster each other through difficult projects and the challenging aspects of work– and sometimes life. 

Is a collaborative approach merely intrinsic to some people, or can it be taught? 

The skill of collaboration can actually be called a science, and it is being studied by academia. Interestingly, as the University of Nebraska at Omaha notes, even the study of collaboration requires – you guessed it – collaboration: “​​The University of Nebraska at Omaha recognizes that collaboration is sufficiently complex [and] that it requires the application of knowledge across many academic disciplines. In other words, there is no single discipline that provides all the required knowledge, theory, methods, and techniques necessary for understanding collaboration. Successful collaboration requires the optimal alignment of people, process, information, technology, facilitation, and leadership.” 

Dr. Vivek Cheba outlines what he believes has contributed to successful collaboration within his offices:  

Find the Right People 

No matter how refined your hiring processes might be, there will be times when you find someone who does not quite fit the role for which they were selected. Dr. Cheba said to have the uncomfortable conversation. For example: Were they hired for a role in which they need to be a “people person” but clearly do not enjoy interacting with people? Talk about it. If there is another role within the organization for which their personality is a better fit, then be open to that – and encourage them to be open to it as well. 

“I have been incredibly fortunate to have so often found the right employees. I have also been fortunate to have found people who are agreeable by nature and who work to get along with colleagues,” Dr. Cheba said. “There have been times when I have placed employees in other areas of the organization. To do this, I have to maintain a level of open observation and communication with staff.” 

That, he said, is what leads to the next essential quality. 

You Have to Be a Leader to Lead 

As people continue to hone incredibly refined skills, collaboration becomes increasingly important. 

“Collaboration is the only way of the future,” Dr. Vivek Cheba said. “Many employees have highly specialized skill sets, so the only way to get things done is to work together. That means that I often have to have an introspective look… to ensure that I am being proactive instead of reactive and approachable instead of abrupt. We are always busy, but that does not give us license to be anything other than kind to one another. Collaboration is absolutely encouraged with kindness and respect.” 

Understand the Difference Between Communication and Collaboration  

Communication is not collaboration. They are distinctly different, as outlined in a recent ZDNet article:  “Communication and collaboration are not synonymous. One is a simple exchange of information, the other is the co-creation of shared outcomes that are richer than they would be otherwise because the participants respond to learning and insight during the process itself. 

This also means people are the most important aspect of collaboration, digital or otherwise.” 

Dr. Cheba notes that one of the main points of collaboration is an openness to growth – fulfilling personal potential and helping colleagues do the same. That, he says, is at the heart of collaboration. 

“There are complexities and layers to collaboration that the scientific community is just now beginning to understand. As our grasp of it expands, we must continue to learn and use that knowledge to create a better working environment for our employees,” Dr. Cheba said. 

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.