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8 Tips for Playing Nice in the Project Management Sandbox

Strategy

Even with the latest advancements in project management technology, collaborative communication can get “cloudy.” After all, workforce collaboration is a human behavior. No one said that working together to achieve a common goal or consensus was easy. There is a human element involved. You’ve got so many distinctive personalities and opinions to contend with and then there is business politics.

With “collaboration” being the latest buzzword in the enterprise, I found it fitting to take a deeper dive into how we can maximize collaborative productivity with project management software. Here are eight secrets to achieving collaborative productivity in the cloud:

1. Create a Team

People are your most important asset. Just like in kickball, you’re going to need an all-star lineup. First, you’ll need to assign a captain or a “project lead.” Every team needs a strong, solid, inspiring, fearless leader. Next, you’ll need to recruit several rockstars (AKA your team members).

A tireless, passionate team makes for a successful project. Lastly, define each member’s role prior to assigning individual tasks, deliverable and deadlines. Recruit a team that gets the work done. Mark Cuban points out, “Everyone tells you how they are going to be ‘special’, but few do the work to get there. Do the work.”

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2. Set Expectations in the Beginning

Communicate the missions, goals, objectives and deliverables on day one. Set a project deadline, create a budget, and assign tasks and deliverables that way, everyone will be on the same page.

3.  Host a Team Meeting

Hold a meeting to discuss the project expectations and logistics before kicking off the project. Keep the meeting brief, but informative. It’s a fantastic way to introduce each member and their role. Now is the chance to ask and answer any important questions. Each team member should walk away with a clear understanding of the project and their workload. Not in the same location? Host a virtual meeting on join.me, GoToMeeting or Google+ Hangouts. 

4. Project Status Updates

Add a status update to the project so everyone knows what’s happening at any given time period. Send messages and update the project tracker in your workspace.  Think of it as a newsfeed on what’s happening on your project. It keeps everyone on the same page and confirms that the project is moving forward. The workspace is also a great place to motivate and congratulate a team member on a job well done. Want more communication? I’d recommend holding a weekly standup meeting to discuss status updates, challenges and partnership opportunities.

5. Don’t Invite Everyone into a Project

Have you every heard the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen?”  Whether it’s too many cooks, chiefs or project managers, having to many opinions can make a project messy and unproductive. Instead, strategically assign individuals based on their skill set, expertise, experience level and the project needs. That way you’ll be able to allocate the most fitting resources to your project.

6. Remember Workplace Etiquette

Use good judgment. Just like in the workplace, it’s essential to be respectful of others in the project management workspace. Use the message feed appropriately. Don’t throw your colleagues under the bus in a virtual workspace, that’s just inconsiderate.  There are private messaging fields for private communications. Jumping on a task that isn’t assigned to you is not productive. Lastly, be mindful of deadlines. If you think you won’t make a deadline, communicate with the team to see if someone can help.

7. Read + Listen

The importance of reading and listening in project management is enormous. It’s the key to effective communication. Without this skill, messages are easily misunderstood. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Stephen R. Covey notes that, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Many of us don’t listen as well as we could. By practicing active listening, you will benefit not only in being more productive, but learning something new.

8.  Embrace our Differences

Balancing dual personalities on a project is challenging. But it’s also what makes us unique and often times better at our jobs. Every business faces differences of opinions in various departments, the sales team isn’t agreeing with marketing and the creative team is conflicting with engineering. Despite our differences, we are all on the same team. The team that puts the customers’ and the company’s interests above our own. By listening to others, you may be surprised what you can learn to make you better in your career.

Sean Rad, founder & CEO of Tinder and previous founder of Adly points out that “Data beats emotions.” Utilizing data and results in decision-making also helps to drive logical, strategic decisions.

Are there any tips I’ve missed? Feel free to leave your own tips, thoughts and comments below.

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