The team that works well together can achieve much together. That concept is at the very heart of collaboration and teamwork. Whatever a project manager can do to keep team members and the customer engaged, responsible and owning of their own tasks and taking care of updating status on tasks as they go can make the life of a project manager much easier. What tool you use to get you there is your choice – there are many options for both desktops and web-based project management.
In terms of collaboration and teamwork in general, we have all seen that when people work together leveraging complementary individual strengths the results can be exceptional. But getting people to work this way can be a challenge and it cannot happen by mandate. The project manager’s role is to actively facilitate collaboration and establish the conditions for good relationships.
Good relations start with the PM
Good relationships among team members start with the project manager’s relationship with the team members. You set the standard and are the role model for the others. You need to take steps to get to know each team member as a person – know what makes each of them tick outside of work and what motivates each of them at work. In addition, by treating each person with respect you establish the model for working relationships on the team.
In addition to getting to know the team members yourself, you should help team members get to know each other by creating opportunities and the right conditions. Opportunities can be created from planning games, everyday interaction, and special events. To set the right conditions, you must establish an environment in which team members treat each other with respect.
Obviously, not all project managers have the luxury of picking and choosing their team, but if at all possible, the first practical step in building a collaborative team is selecting team members with the right attitude and complementary skills.
This initial stage of the project also provides the project manager with opportunities to get to know the team and help them get to know each other. The time-honored kick-off group session can be combined with techniques often using in training sessions such as sharing personal and professional information with a colleague who then makes the group introduction. If possible, for teams that are co-located together (rather than geographically dispersed) the project manager can work to ensure that the physical workspace is arranged in a way that facilitates collaborative activities such as pair programming and team problem solving. Ideally, the team should be located in an open space with both individual and common areas.
Summary / call for input
Obviously, facilitating collaboration and teamwork – which are both part of the communication puzzle on the project – are high up on the project manager’s responsibility and leadership list. The PM who has trouble getting his team to work well together is likely going to fail miserably after just a few projects.
What about our readers? What are your tips or suggestions for project managers who may be struggling in these areas? What did you do on your own to grow in these key areas for your project?