Collaboration is a critical component for project success. Now that teams often consist of many individuals in different time zones, working together across the globe, the ability to collaborate effectively is one of the most necessary skills for project success.
Here are 10 ways to ensure your team collaboration is successful:
1. Use the right tool(s) for the job
According to research carried out by Dell and Intel, more than half of all global employees believe that they are more productive when working from home than their office-based counterparts.
This is not a fad and it isn’t going away anytime soon. If anything, the continued virtualization of the work environment is something that will become more and more mainstream, while large offices and shared workspaces continue to decrease.
Team dispersion used to only be an issue with small teams; as this becomes more and more normalized, larger teams are starting to have to figure out how to make this work for them.
Use technology to your advantage: investigate videoconferencing software, shared calendars, and task management applications to keep your team on track.
If you’re experiencing frustration in a team collaboration environment, look to see if there is a technological application that could solve your problem.
2. Build trust and respect
Modern teams consist of employees belonging to diverse backgrounds, experiences and qualifications. Successful project completion relies on the team coming together to work as a whole. To facilitate this, clear and respectful communication among team members must be encouraged.
Trust and respect go a long way towards building team spirit. A team that works in a mutually respectful environment is creative and receptive to innovative ideas; the team can leverage the strength of individual team members when each person feels safe in their efforts to contribute.
A friendly environment helps teams flourish and successfully complete projects.
3. Strive for more
A successful business is constantly experiencing growth; with these increased tasks, it can be tempting to ask more and more of your employees without hiring additional team members. While this may be ok in the short term, don’t hesitate to increase your team size as needed.
This will encourage your team members in a variety of ways: they’ll know that you support them, that you’re listening to their needs, and that you want to give them the tools necessary to succeed.
As your team increases in size, the complexity of collaboration increases. Many teams use an online task tracking tool to collaborate. Sometimes the software tools you used early on may not be able to keep pace with these increasing requirements.
For example, you may have started using an online tool for task management. It might work well for smaller teams, but as you grow larger you may need to begin examining more powerful applications, such as nTask, Asana or Basecamp.
4. Clarify objectives
To ensure project success, the team must be aware of project objectives. Communicating project deliverables is the cornerstone of ensuring successful completion.
The team should be aware of project goals, and this requires regular meetings. Explore video and teleconference options to make sure that you’re giving your team all the tools they need to not only stay on track, but stay on track together.
5. Socialize at work
Teams that hang out outside of formal office settings perform better. A PGI study showed that teams that contained team members who already knew each other performed better than teams which consisted of strangers.
This type of team environment doesn’t come naturally, and must be encouraged. Keeping the big picture in mind as a project manager and leader requires that you not only look at direct project success, but that you also are always looking for ways to better your team environment.
Hosting friendly competitions, giving awards to teams and individuals, and scheduling team building events are great ways to do this.
6. Document it
Documentation is a huge part of any project, and this takes on increased importance when working collaboratively in a virtual environment. There will inevitably be confusion and miscommunication among team members and between the team and clients; keeping excellent records is one of the keys to mitigate this as much as possible.
Make sure that whatever task management software you choose allows employees to access key information whenever necessary, and that the software application works in tandem with your long-term records system.
7. Encourage timeliness
Project success depends in large part on timely project completion. This is not only true in the immediate sense, but also for your long-term reputation and ability to gain and keep repeat customers. While timeliness is the responsibility of each team member, it is up to the project manager to keep everyone on track.
The right project management software will allow you to communicate and highlight important deadlines. Make sure that the software you choose works well with the management systems already in place in your business.
8. Encourage open, honest discussion
A 2011 survey by Fierce Inc. found that 99.1% of employees prefer a workplace in which people discuss issues truthfully and effectively.
Open and honest discussions help create a comfortable work environment; this also helps in improving understanding between team members.
Improved understanding leads to better collaboration on projects; it also helps in resolving conflicts among team members in a civilized manner. Without healthy discussion, tension can build and lead to heated debates which can end up significantly undermining project success.
9. Stay flexible
Constant communication and feedback is essential to ensure that a project is completed to the customer’s satisfaction.
It is essential that project managers work with team members to understand their concerns about project deliverables than creating an environment where team members feel stifled, end up struggling with issues and fail to meet deadlines.
When team members have issues, encourage them to openly discuss this and seek out of the box solutions to resolve complications. Discussing the problem is only the first step, however; as a project manager, you need to be flexible and remain open to unconventional solutions.
Allowing team members the flexibility to seek their own solutions throughout the project lifecycle gives them flexibility in meeting their requirements. In many cases, this flexibility will allow the team to deliver the product using a different method, and sometimes even more quickly, cheaply, and effectively than the process the team started the project using.
Collaboration allows project managers to delegate tasks while keeping in mind everyone’s individual strengths. Leveraging everyone’s unique abilities results in projects being completed on-time, under-budget and according to the requirements. Without effective delegation, projects will suffer.
Successful project management does not entail micro-management, but it does require effective oversight and ensuring that tasks are assigned to the right individual. When this is done correctly, projects are completed more successfully and employees are happier and feel more fulfilled at work.
Let us know some of the ways you’ve implemented these solutions in your work environment by commenting below.