9 Ways to Achieve Better Team Collaboration
All of the best things in life happen as a result of great minds coming together.
Computers, space travel, the Beatles… none of these things would have been possible without skilled people collaborating effectively and working together toward a common goal.
However, effective collaboration isn’t easy.
If you’re an occasional project manager (i.e., someone who isn’t professionally trained in project management but is willing to give it a shot when the need arises), the notion of trying to get a team of individuals with different ideas and opinions to work together in harmony can be intimidating.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
In this post, we’ll share nine actionable tips that you can use to achieve better team collaboration in your next project.
Ready? Let’s get started!
1. Leverage team collaboration tools
If you’re still relying on outdated tools like email, phone calls, and spreadsheets to communicate and collaborate with your team, it’s time for an update.
Why? Because relying on these kinds of inefficient tools can lead to miscommunication and other collaboration issues.
Let’s face it, email is messy. Important emails can get lost or diverted to spam, and huge email chains make it difficult to find the information you need at the right time.
In fact, a recent Planview study found that as a result of these kinds of hurdles, teams reported losing up to 9 weeks per year. Not good.
Fortunately, there is an easier way.
Project Central is a dedicated project management tool for teams using Office 365. With Project Central, you can centralize your project communication and status reporting by collaborating directly within the app.
You can use Project Central to assign tasks to individual team members, set up workflows, and communicate with your team.
Rather than manually sending an email out with an attached file every time you finish a task, you can simply @mention another team member in the comments section of a project. Easy.
You can also integrate the Project Central app into your Microsoft Teams chat channel.
2. Set clear timelines and goals
When working on a project, timing is everything. If one team member in the chain is late on a deadline, it can have a knock-on effect on everyone else’s workflow.
That’s why setting clear timelines and goals is so important. It’s a good idea to make sure every team member is able to clearly see all important due dates and ensure they’re accountable for completing tasks and deliverables assigned to them on time.
With Project Central, you can assign tasks to individual team members. They’ll be able to clearly see their start date and due date from within the app, which can help everyone to stay organized and understand what needs to be done.
All the tasks assigned to each team member are visible on the My Tasks page. This means users don’t have to click into each project in order to see what their task is. Instead, they can get a quick overview of all of them in a single, personalized dashboard.
You can even sync up your My Tasks list to an external calendar like Outlook so that you never miss a beat.
3. Keep an eye on your team’s progress
It’s important for management to be able to keep a close eye on the progress of projects. By doing so, you’ll be able to predict whether your team is on track to meet targets or if you’re likely to run late.
Knowing this in advance enables you to make strategic decisions to get things back on track, or push deadlines back if necessary.
Again, Project Central can help with this.
Our tool offers intuitive project tracking features that enable you to view the progress of each task assigned to your team members and watch how things progress in real-time through beautiful visual dashboards.
You’ll be able to see at a glance how close the project is to completion.
4. Take advantage of templates
If you’re going to be assigning the same tasks to team members over and over again, it just doesn’t make sense to start a new project from scratch every time.
You’ve already done the hard work once. You don’t need to do it twice. That’s where templates come in.
Project Central allows you to convert existing projects into a reusable template that you can use for future projects.
By using a template to put the groundwork in place, you don’t have to waste time recreating all the same tasks. And as we all know, time is money.
5. Make file sharing easy
Collaboration often involves multiple people working on the same document, spreadsheet, or other project files. For example, you may need to co-edit documents or share reports with colleagues or management for approval at each stage of the process.
Project Central makes file sharing easy. You can upload files to your projects and attach them directly to tasks so that they’re close to hand when you need them.
The app also integrates with Office 365. Once you’ve connected it, you’ll be able to access all the files in your Office 365 document library directly within Project Central.
Free Project Plan Template in Excel
6. Create an effective cross-functional team
As an accidental project manager, you won’t have all the required skills and knowledge you need to tackle an entire project on your own.
You’ll have to lean on the expertise of the wider team to be successful. And the more varied and diverse your team’s collective skills and knowledge, the easier this becomes.
This is what it means to build a cross-functional team.
An effective cross-functional team brings together individuals with a wide variety of skills and experience who may not typically work together day-to-day.
And every effective team needs an effective leader to rally behind.
As the project leader, it’s your job to understand each of the team members’ individual strengths and weaknesses and how to bring them out. You’re also there to resolve conflicts and ensure the project runs smoothly.
7. Empower your team to make decisions
Collaboration is best-suited to flat organizations with fewer levels of management. Why? Because bureaucracy slows down decision-making.
Questions and unexpected issues will inevitably arise in most projects. When this happens, having to wait for management to approve decisions can cause work to grind to a standstill and lead to costly delays.
The best collaborations happen when the project leader empowers their team to make decisions on their own. It also helps to have a process in place to guide team members in their decision-making.
Don’t get me wrong, this won’t eliminate the need for leadership entirely. It may still be necessary for management/project leaders to make decisions from time to time, such as when different team members disagree on the correct way to move forward.
8. Foster a collaborative environment
Another way to achieve better team collaboration is to put systems in place that encourage team members to work together, rather than against each other.
Fostering the wrong kind of collaborative environment can cause your team to come to loggerheads. This may be driven by personality clashes or competition for performance-related bonuses.
This kind of environment isn’t conducive to effective collaborative work. You want your team working together, not pulling each other down.
One way to foster a more friendly, collaborative environment is to factor in bonding time. Team building activities and events can help to build rapport between members and break down communication barriers.
It’s also a good idea to celebrate the wins, no matter how big or small. Take the time to make every team member feel appreciated and proud of what they’ve accomplished by working together through regular praise and positive feedback.
9. Take steps to reduce collaborative burnout
One of the biggest problems teams face is collaborative burnout. Collaborative burnout occurs when teams spend more time on communication than on producing high-quality work and making reflective decisions.
To reduce collaborative burnout, minimize all unnecessary and time-communicating communications so that your team can spend more time doing their work, and less time talking about it.
Long meetings are a productivity killer. Don’t hold unnecessary meetings just for the sake of it – save them for when group discussions are really needed and make them count.
Only invite the team members that are necessary to each meeting in order to avoid wasting other people’s time, have a clear agenda in place, and make sure everyone walks away feeling like it was worth their time. It’s a good idea to end the meeting by clarifying each team member’s next steps.
There you have it – nine ways to achieve better team collaboration on your next project. Now, where do you go from here?
Well, you can start by signing up for a free 14-day free trial of Project Central. Once you’ve got the right software, setting up and managing your team projects should be a breeze.
And if you’re still not sure if Project Central is the right software solution for your team, we’d be happy to help you figure it out. Just book a discovery call with us for a time that suits you to find out more.