Do You Collaborate Effectively?
As part of corporate America, I really enjoy working as a part of a cross-functional team to resolve a problem or create a program. I thrive on it. “It is time to collaborate!” “Hooray!” In my opinion, collaboration not only equals a happier workforce, it represents an educated one. It naturally inspires a sense of community within an organization, meaning that employees feel like they are a part of a family. Additionally, collaboration allows employees to learn from each other. So, how do you set about creating a team of people that can collaborate effectively?
Good People / Same Goals
First, you need a project team leader that will take charge. Someone has to steer the ship! Next, make sure the people on the team are appropriate for the task at hand. Depending upon the scope of the project, you may want all like-minded people or a blend of perspectives. The purpose of the project should be explained and made clear to all participants by a team leader. The leader needs to explain the details, goals and project timeline. Even if you are simply working on a short-term project, make sure everyone understands the goal.
Communication is key. Everyone on the team needs to know what is expected and what the deadlines are. They should know how much work is anticipated and the number of hours they should put into it. People collaborate better when the project is well-communicated and managed. Setting up specific communication guidelines helps your participants focus on the task at hand rather than spinning to find answers. Determine in advance who will talk to whom, when and how often. Let people know which channels are appropriate. Perhaps create a specific place on your company intranet or utilize cloud-based documents that support collaborative editing, so people can continually update their progress. It’s an easy at-a-glance way of letting the whole team know what the latest information is.
Hold Effective Team Meetings
Have you ever been in a meeting that spirals off to other projects that has nothing to do with the task at hand? Most teams waste time during meetings catching up about personal things or discussing unrelated topics. Before you start a meeting, have a reason for it. Then, tell each individual team member what he or she will need to bring to each meeting and set an agenda. This way, you can measure the success of a meeting, and ensure everyone gets value for their time. Don’t micromanage, just set clear expectations. It’s important to put a method to the madness! While it’s important to have a positive and encouraging relationship with your collaborative team members, the team leader should recognize when the meeting is not productive and then redirect. Most importantly, when the meeting convenes, each person should be clear on what happens next and what tasks need to be completed in order for the project to continue to move towards completion.
Recognize and Praise
Give praise, credit, and affirmation often, loudly and where it is due. It is important to give recognition when a team member has contributed a good idea, hard work, or even good constructive criticism. Collaborative relationships work best when team members feel appreciated and valued. If others in your office see the positive attributes of collaboration, they will be encouraged by your leadership to make collaboration a priority.
Tackling collaborative projects can be very rewarding and effective if you take a little time to manage, organize and communicate well with your team. It feels good to accomplish something together. To make a difference. Now, go out and do something great!
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