How to Collaborate Effectively as a Team

Jul 11, 2019
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Many executives, engineers, and team members see project management as purely administrative—a roadblock, and even a source of overhead.

Project managers have earned a bad rap—individuals who only function “according to plan”, constantly bug teach members for updates, and dish out reports for the management team.

However, effective, valuable, and successful project management today is really project leadership.

Project leaders drive value to the team, the project, and the organization as a whole by coaching, developing, and molding a team to collaborate effectively. These activities deliver more value than simply orchestrating tasks.

Yes, there is a lot that goes into developing and managing a successful project, however, success really begins with a strong team culture and collaborative team.

In this article, we will talk about the importance of building a strong team culture, the benefits of team collaboration, and some tips on how to collaborate effectively.

The Importance of Team Culture

The first step to build a solid team culture is to ensure that you have the right people on a team. By the right people, we don’t necessarily mean the most skilled, talented, and experienced.

Yes, skill sets are absolutely important, but what is more important is working with people with the right attitude and mindset. People who are adaptable and flexible, open to change, and assume accountability and ownership for their work are people you want in your team culture.

Here are some of the benefits of a strong team culture:

1. Greater Chances of Success. An effective, collaborative team culture positively impacts not only the success of the project, but also the success of the organization.

When people feel like they are valuable to the team, they are more productive and motivated to get work done. The more people feel valued and understood and accepted within the team culture, the better they will function as a unit.

2. Mitigate Risks. Good team collaboration and involvement in planning and estimating can help mitigate risks, particularly risks associated with communication. Disjointed project teams often fall victims to project failure due to miscommunication, or a general lack of communication, and also misunderstanding project scope and priorities.

All of this can be avoided when project team members each do their parts to collaborate and participate.

3. Interaction Drives Innovation. The more comfortable project team members feel when working and communicating with one another, the more likely they will be to interact—and interaction drives innovation.

4. Participatory Decision Making. Project team members should be self-directed, managing their own work individually as well as participate in making decisions as a group. Project team members should also be able to influence the project as well as help determine requirements.

What is Project Leadership?

Yes, the team culture is important, but how well a team is assembled, collaborates, and functions depends on the leader. Effective project leaders who drive project collaboration and a sense of community do the following:

  • Focus the team on vision, objectives, and delivering results
  • Understand individual roles and develop each individual’s capabilities
  • Provide the team with necessary resources and remove roadblocks
  • Help the team find solutions and workarounds
  • Encourage exploration and experimentation
  • Orchestrate the team’s rhythm

10 Tips for Collaborating Effectively as a Team

Now that you understand the importance of culture and project leadership, here are some tips for how to ensure teams and leaders collaborative effectively.

1. Do Daily “Stand Ups”. Many teams are beginning to see the value of doing daily stand-up meetings. The purpose of these meetings is for each team member to share their goals for the day, what they plan to accomplish, and any roadblocks. This helps keep individuals honest and accountable for their tasks.

These meetings are meant to be brief. Depending on the size of the team, they could be 10 to 30 minutes. In fact, some teams share daily stand-ups in a chat application, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack.

  1. Open Communication. We all know that communication is key to any successful professional working relationship. However, working with remote or virtual teams makes open communication difficult. When teams rely on email or chat applications for communication, it is easy to lose track of important messages. As a result, there is a lot of miss-communicating and ball-dropping, which can be detrimental to a project.

    Good project leaders need to go out of their way and go above and beyond to increase communication among virtual teams. Daily “stand-ups” and setting clear expectations for communication are all ways to close the gap in communication.
  2. Manage and Oversee Workloads. In addition to doing daily “stand-ups”, project leaders also play a role in managing workloads and day-to-day activities and tasks.

Project leaders merely help team members prioritize tasks, however, team members should feel empowered to work on their assigned tasks and work in whichever way they choose. This is why assembling a self-directed project team is important.

4. Encourage Interactions. Interactions can take many forms, such as brainstorming sessions, chat messages, design reviews, phone calls, online group discussions, and decision-making. As we mentioned above, as team members learn to respect and trust one another, interactions will increase, which will ultimately drive innovation.

5. Establish “Team Rules”. Although many agile teams have the freedom and flexibility to work how they choose, this doesn’t mean your workplace is a free-for-all. There is nothing wrong with setting some “ground rules” to ensure team members collaborate effectively.

For example, when participating in discussions, team members should remember to be respectful to others’ opinions, avoid interrupting others while they are speaking, and avoid finger-pointing and name-calling. Good project leaders will encourage appropriate moods and attitudes, remind team members how they should treat one another, and also help them be accountable for following these ground rules.

If all project team members learn to recognize and respect these rules, then this will help the team to establish trust.

6. Coach and Develop the Team. As we mentioned briefly at the beginning of this article, one of the most important activities a project leader should focus on is coaching and team development. Project leaders should help team members develop capabilities and skills, encourage exploration and experimentation (and to take “risks”), and to also ensure they have the resources to be successful.

7. Keep the Team Focused. While being immersed in the day-to-day work, team members have a tendency to “go dark” to focus on their own tasks and work. As a result, it is easy for team members to occasionally lose sight of goals. It is up to the project leader to remind them of the goals by revisiting key constraints and reinvigorating the team with the ultimate vision and objectives of the project.

8. Be Honest and Transparent. Transparency and honesty go a long way in a team’s eyes. Team members want the facts, even if they aren’t always good news. At the end of the day, team members just want the truth.

Teams that lack trust will only interact on a superficial level, which decreases overall interaction. A lack of interaction means that team members are likely working in silos rather than as a collaborative group, which leads to increased conflicts and decreased outcomes.

All in all, ensuring honesty and transparency will establish a level of trust, which is particularly important for building a collaborative team.

9. Be Clear About Expectations. Team members want to know what is expected of them. They want to know and understand what needs to be accomplished, and have the flexibility and independence to figure it out on their own. Therefore, being clear about what team members need to do will help set them up for success.

10. Use a Collaborative Tool. In addition to fostering a servant-like leadership with the tips we provided above, project team members can also use a project management tool that encourages and makes collaboration easy.

For example, sharing task status updates, notes, and other correspondence can help increase visibility among team members, and it can also help make iteration monitoring for the project leader easier.

Boost Team Collaboration with Rindle

All in all, collaboration is about decision making at its core. Collaboration involves brainstorming, talking and discussions, debating, making trade-offs, and decision-making. More than talking and engaging in discussions, collaboration is delivering and delivering means making decisions.

Rindle is a complete project management tool that is easy to adopt and use, and enhance team collaboration. It is equipped with team collaboration features, such as comment threads, messages, and email updates, making it easy to communicate effectively with remote and virtual teams.

Give Rindle a try today.