Henry Ford, an American industrialist and the founder of Ford automobiles, said “If everyone moves forward together, success will come of itself. Indeed, a project cannot be accomplished without the work of a cohesive team. The team members pool their knowledge, experience and skills to achieve the objectives and make the project a success. This is called collaboration.
Whether your employees are located in the same office, scattered around the world or working remotely, here’s how to collaborate effectively as a team on a project.
Setting the rules for collaboration
Collaboration is about thinking and working together to achieve a common goal, i.e. the success of your project. However, each team has its own way of collaborating. For example, teams working remotely will mainly use digital tools and applications such as video conferencing and instant messaging to exchange, share ideas and documents, and make progress on their project. Employees working in the same office will probably prefer face-to-face meetings.
So, to collaborate well on project management, it is important to define from the outset how your team works, and what best practices you should follow to ensure that the collaboration goes as smoothly as possible. This means
- defining everyone’s roles and responsibilities ;
- explaining how you see collaboration in your team (mutual support, knowledge sharing, etc.);
- clarifying the behaviours to adopt and the values to uphold;
- Determine how to work and communicate (synchronous and asynchronous communication);
- Establish procedures to follow in case of problems or conflicts;
- celebrate every little success.
In this way, your employees all start with the same foundations. They know how to work together, when and how to communicate, and how to react to each situation. This allows them to be more efficient and productive in their day-to-day management of the project.
Developing team cohesion
If you have assembled a brand new team for this project, it is likely that the members know little or nothing about each other. To work together effectively, it is imperative that they get to know and trust each other.
As a project leader and manager, it is your role to foster team spirit and group cohesion in order to break down barriers, create a bond and a sense of togetherness, and develop a climate of trust within your team.
To do this, bring your employees together at events within the company, but also outside. For example, have breakfast as a team every Monday morning, have lunch together regularly, and end the working week with a drink on Friday evening. You can also organise team building activities such as sports, a cooking class, a creative workshop or an introduction to theatre or wine tasting. There is no shortage of ideas to bring your team together!
Focus on communication
To collaborate effectively on a project and ensure its success, communication is absolutely essential. Indeed, it is imperative that your collaborators regularly exchange and share key information about the project. This allows you to monitor the progress of tasks in real time and to know who is doing what in order to avoid mistakes, omissions and duplication.
As a project manager, you should encourage open, honest and non-judgmental communication. Communication is also about listening. This means that everyone in your team should feel that they can ask questions and share their opinions, even if they differ, without being judged.
- Here are some ideas to encourage communication
- Organise daily, weekly or fortnightly meetings/exchanges with your team
- Encourage coffee breaks to encourage informal communication
- Leave your door open to indicate that you are available for discussion
- Use communication tools such as instant messaging or video conferencing for geographically dispersed teams.
Creating a collaborative environment
Company culture plays a fundamental role in encouraging and valuing collaboration. Here are some tips for creating a collaborative working environment in your organisation.
- Provide quiet, comfortable places to work together without distraction.
- Empower your employees and involve them in the company’s results.
- Be transparent about your decisions and encourage feedback.
- Create a safe space where everyone feels free to share their opinions and ideas without fear of being judged.
- Encourage knowledge sharing and learning between colleagues.
- Value teamwork.
Use collaborative tools
There are a multitude of tools available to support communication and collaboration within teams. Collaborative platforms such as Wimi allow employees to work efficiently together on a project. Indeed, they can find all the necessary functionalities to facilitate teamwork and monitor the progress of the project in a single space.
For example, with the Wimi collaborative suite, you have:
- Unified workspaces by project or by activity
- A task manager
- discussion channels, instant messaging and a videoconferencing system
- Shared calendars
- a file storage space
Today, these tools are essential to facilitate collaboration within teams. This is especially true when team members do not work in person together.
To collaborate effectively on project management, it is not enough to bring together competent people and wait for the magic to happen. Collaboration requires a minimum of preparation and organisation. This includes defining good practices, developing team cohesion, fostering communication, creating a collaborative environment and using collaborative tools. It’s up to you!