How to Implement and Maintain Effective Collaboration in Project Teams
Hannah Walter is a freelance writer who focuses on the world of business and tech. When she’s not writing content or figuring out what NFTs are, you’ll probably find her either hitting the gym or checking out the new season fashion drops.
When completing project-based work, especially for clients, being able to collaborate is an unparalleled strength that should be utilized when possible. Everybody has their own expertise to bring to the table, and any workplace project involving being able to successfully work together, communicate, share knowledge, and work together will allow for a more cohesive, and professional outcome.
Mitel’s Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology Report 2017 states that “employees spend over two-thirds of their time connecting and collaborating.” This shows how important collaboration and effective communication are in the workplace, even more so in a project environment.
Without collaboration, the effective completion of a project is impossible. However, collaboration is something that needs to be consciously implemented and maintained to ensure that everybody performs to their potential and the best outcome is achieved.
Most workplace projects are carried out by a combination of people with different skills coming together to work towards a goal, and a lack of collaboration between these people can lead to the failure of the project.
Ensuring that all of the team members are able to collaborate successfully is an important part of any workplace project.
Several strategies can be combined to aid collaboration in a workplace project situation, and by implementing some or all of these strategies, project managers can help to ensure the success of their workplace project.
Before you think about anything else, it’s important that you have the best tools at hand to run the project. This facilitates the whole project and enables those who are involved to effectively contribute, plan, communicate, and deliver their goals and targets.
Software can be used to enable workers to work collaboratively from remote locations. Being able to share files, updates, and other information is essential, but there are other benefits to a project that can be gained through specialist collaboration tools.
According to leading infrastructure and cloud enablement company, Creative ITC, a collaboration platform can:
- Easily connect your workforce-Give employees the freedom to collaborate in real time, from anywhere while using their preferred 3D design and content creation tools
- Achieve faster time to production-Achieve Maximum iterations at no opportunity cost mean shortened design cycles and superior quality
- Access secure IP from anywhere-Keep assets secure with infrastructure that removes the need to distribute sensitive files either locally or around the world
- Provide full-service global enterprise support-Ensure projects stay on schedule,minimize system downtime, and maximize system utilization and user productivity
With cloud-based collaboration tools, you can allow remote workers to access systems and even contributors from other companies if necessary.
Businesses that run successful projects are keen to emphasize that a lot of this success is due to having the best project collaboration tools such as shared platforms.
Communication with the Project Team
Ensuring that you have good communication between the project team members that are taking part in the project is also key to creating an environment of good collaboration – and, consequently, the success of the project.
There are many ways that communication can be enhanced between project managers and their team, and between the separate members of the project team. In fact, there are a number of different perspectives that should be considered when you are managing a project:
- Communication up and down between team members of different hierarchies within the project
- Communication horizontally between team members of the same hierarchy as well as diagonally (between project team members who are not directly above or below each other)
- Communication between the project manager and other stakeholders that are not involved in the day-to-day fulfillment of the project
- The formality of communication – should you hold informal catch-ups and telephone conversations, for example, or more formal written communication, presentations, reports, or press releases?
- Whether the communication is verbal or non-verbal, in-person or via email or video conferencing, etc.
- Ensuring that all project team collaborators are fully-briefed on the goals of the project and that this is kept as a focus throughout
There are some considerations that you should think about when you communicate with your project team:
- Technology–Technology such as collaboration platforms, cloud technology, and video conferencing can all be key elements in ensuring effective communication between you and the rest of your project team. It can allow project team members to be apart from each other physically whilst continuing to communicate and work together
- Information content–It will often be the case that not everyone needs to have every piece of information. This can make situations confusing for project team members. As the project manager, you should consider what information each project team member will need to effectively do their job and give them this information and in a way that suits them best
- Inclusiveness–Increasingly project teams are including people who are from other countries, cultures, or speak other languages. Those who work in different disciplines can also use different languages to describe similar situations. Try to be mindful of this and avoid using slang, colloquialisms, sarcasm, or in-jokes to avoid any miscommunication and potential alienation. You might also want to consider defining terms and words at the beginning of the project so that everybody understands wholly what you mean
Boost Team Performance with Transparency
When it comes to collaboration between the project team members, transparency is absolutely essential. This does not mean that every project team member should be given every piece of information. It’s necessary to have the option to filter what information is relevant to them to avoid getting inundated with information that is not useful to them, while also having the option to get information if they require it.
There are, of course, some exceptions. Personal information and sensitive information should be carefully considered before sharing it with project team members, for example.
Transparency is essential for making team members feel involved and included, and for helping you to get the most out of them and keep them motivated.
One of the main benefits of collaboration is allowing project team members to contribute ideas without fear of being shut down. Try to encourage everyone to get involved, make sure that you listen to everyone, and give value to everyone’s input. You should also seek to encourage project team members who use their initiative, implement changes, and take on suggestions that have been made if you feel them to be valuable.
Create a Barrier-Free Environment
Physical barriers can be damaging in a team environment and inhibit the ability of project team members to collaborate. They not only have a physical effect, but also a psychological effect. For the best collaboration, if your project team members are in the same space, try to reduce the physical barriers that are between them, even if it means just ensuring that office doors are left open and that project team members feel that they are able to go and speak to project managers at any time.
This not only allows project team members to communicate and collaborate easily but also breaks down the psychological barriers between you and them.
Make the Most of Project Team Meetings
As highlighted above, regular communication is essential for the success of a workplace project. These give every project team member the opportunity to get up-to-date with the project’s progress, report on their own progress, and discuss the way forward. It is vital that all of your project team members can engage with your project team meetings, and there are several strategies that you can use to ensure that project team meetings are as effective and engaging as possible. These can include:
- Keeping meeting as short and concise as possible
- Distribute information and reports beforehand to enable project team members to peruse the detail before the meeting
- Create an agenda and make sure that you stick to it strictly in the meeting
- Avoid going over the pre-distributed material during the meeting unless it is necessary
Look After Your Project Team
A happy and motivated workforce is, without a doubt, a productive and successful workforce. It is important that you look after your project team to ensure that you get the best from them. Some of the things that you should consider doing include:
- Holding fun, team-building events to enhance motivation
- Create opportunities for your team to socialize with each other every week. For example, use a QR code to invite them to a virtual room. They can chit-chat, play quizzes or online games.
- Celebrate project milestones or hitting targets along the way
- Give your team members regular feedback on their performance and reward them for good work where it is appropriate
- Set targets that are realistic and do not put unnecessary pressure on your team members
- Try to create a pleasant, productive, and professional environment for your team members to work in
When it comes to delivering a successful workplace project, effective collaboration is absolutely essential. It’s vital that communication is good both in face-to-face and remote circumstances, that all members of the collaborative project team are well-informed, and feel confident and motivated. Ensuring that engagement is high and that there is a feeling of teamwork is also vital for the workplace project that you are managing to be as successful as it can be.