Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew we could have perfect collaboration on every project we were managing from now till the end of time? Or at least till we all decided we had something else to do other than handle project teams and manage projects? If everyone could work well and play well with everyone else, put all egos aside and focus on the common goals of the project, delivery team and client, we would all be happy focused team members and likely pretty successful too.
From my experience there are five steps to take or areas to cover to get the best collaborative efforts on every project going forward. Let's review my list and think about what your list is as you read on...
Use the right collaboration platform. Collaboration is a cohesiveness and communication concept. Working together on a common goal... collaboratively... to reach a successful finish – like the project implementation in this case. A good collaboration tool can help get you there. Some teams can get away with a Facebook group that is closed and dedicated to the project. It's certainly not the best long-term solution if you're working on large projects with big teams and heavyweight project clients. The better option is going to be a dedicated project management tool that allows for collaborating on meetings, documents, deliverables, knowledge sharing and, depending on the selected tool, maybe even just about all forms of communication. Find what will work for you, there’s plenty of software out there.
Spread the wealth - reward and recognise. Project managers and project team members are often unsung heroes – but we can shout each other’s great project accomplishments from the rooftops. Single out great performances and give rewards and recognition when deserved. Send out a companywide email on your project's success singling out great contributions from your team members. It's critical to share – as a team – successes and failures as you're working on common project goals, meeting project milestones, and producing reviewed and high-quality deliverables. Celebrate and work closely together – good communication breeds the close-knit team you need for great collaboration and great success.
Be transparent. Transparency leads to honesty which leads to confidence which leads to success. I believe in full transparency from the project manager, without this, it's hard to breed best collaboration, best decision making and best information gathering and sharing. I also believe in full transparency with the customer on everything bad and good about the project. Maybe delay really bad news long enough to regroup with the team to come up with some potential workarounds or fixes that can be shared, discussed and selected from. But get the team and customer involved as quickly as possible. The project customer can help and will want to help – include them as soon as possible in any issues being addressed.
Find the right chemistry. The right team chemistry leads to great project collaboration. It doesn't have to be perfect chemistry. We are all adults and should be able to work well and play well with others. No one should really need to figuratively be babysat or have their hand held. Chemistry. Yes, learn to work together. Understand each other. Help each other. Work toward common goals. Isn't that what a project is all about?
Promote the cohesive team. A cohesive team is going to be collaborative team and vice versa. How do you get that cohesive team? I'll be the first to tell you that it doesn't have to be face-to-face. Water cooler talk is overrated and a time waster anyway. I've been leading project teams and clients remotely for most of the past 15 years on very successful project initiatives and I've worked very cohesively with all project team members – who have all worked closely and very well together too. And most of us never met each other face-to-face before, during or after the project. You can get a cohesive team through excellent communication, listening, follow up and ensuring that some personal discussion happens to keep the team close-knit and feeling like, well…a team. And that’s really the project manager’s responsibility to make sure that is happening regularly.
Summary / call for input
In my opinion, good collaboration equals ongoing project success. At the end of the project you're going to have a job well done and a satisfied project client more often than not. This list is probably just the tip of the iceberg though. What would you add to this list? From your experiences leading or participating on projects, what other key steps or areas should be added here? Please share and discuss.
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