Successful Collaboration requires Team Engagement

Each person on the project team is essential to a successful outcome. The level of engagement that each team member has can significantly influence the level of success the project will have.  Here are a few ideas for engaging your team.

Understanding the Pain

If you can involve the entire team in reviewing requirements, then the team will understand why change is needed to reduce or avoid the pain being experienced.  Don’t just tell them what you want changed.   This not only helps all team members better develop their piece of the solution for better test planning, it allows the entire team to discuss the problem and possible solutions so the best solution can be selected by everyone – including the customer/business. When the team discusses things together, they start seeing what each other can contribute to the solution and they start listening to each other better.  It actually encourages them to talk to one another – which is critical to successful collaboration.  The more team members work directly together rather than working thru the PM or managers, the faster solutions are created.   And encourage them to involve you in the discussion if they are timid of working together directly at first.

Involving everyone

Once a project is kicked off, the more you can keep communication at a level that includes the entire team, not just between the 2 or few people needed for a decision.  You can do this by inviting the entire team to discussions, such as trying to solve problems or make decisions on things – even the smallest of decisions by encouraging this behavior at your team meetings.   Then call meetings with the entire team for just 10 minutes to come to decisions.   Teaching them that they can collaborate without having hour long meetings.

Keep them in the Know

You can also Copy them all on emails – even if they are not directly involved in the conversation.  Especially if you keep the emails short and to the point…they will start reading them and interject their input. They might only respond to you at first, so be sure to respond all and thank them for their input so the rest of the team will see that you want their input.  Don’t be surprise when they all start “replying all”!

Everyone’s Opinion Counts

When you can encourage everyone to participate in discusses by drawing each team member out on topics that you know they have an expertise, then team members will start responding to things they see out of line in all forms of communication.   And other team members will listen to their feedback and recognize them as valuable team members. You can do this by asking a specific team member “what they think” about the topic being discussed.  And be quiet – give them time to answer.  This will grow confidence in the entire team as well and grow the level of collaboration amongst team members exponentially.

Model it and Praise it Publically

Leading and coaching your team to engage is how a PM can be successful.   If your team is used to waiting for someone to tell them what to do, then you might need to model these things for them yourself.  Show them how to do it “by doing it yourself” every opportunity you have – such as team meetings.  When you see your team engaging to collaborate – praise them publically, so all can see.

Try these things…they really work.  

This might sound simplistic….but going back to basics can give you the biggest bang for the buck many time.   You don’t need fancy tools.   Try it….and let me know your success stories.