Have you ever had a project go south after you have exhausted all attempts to save it? I know I have! I have learned that projects in every industry, regardless of size, have two important, “must have” ingredients that determine project success: teamwork and communication.

The absence of these two characteristics on any type of engagement can, and will, lead to the slow and painful death of your project. Both teamwork and communication are equally important in value and both need to be present for success. If you have great relationships, camaraderie and teamwork on any type of project, but lack clear concise communication and communication channels, you are doomed to fail from project initiation. The same stands true for a project that has great communication with minimal teamwork; it will certainly be on the fast-track to failure.

Maintaining unified teamwork is key. The project team will be more successful and will feel like a cohesive unit if the project manager can keep motivation unified across all team members throughout the different life cycles of the project. By inhibiting an environment conducive to teamwork it will generate and motivate the resources to work more efficiently and effectively, essentially lowering project costs, generating more profit and providing the client with more value.

Ways to improve teamwork

  • Social interactions – Teamwork is at its peak when team members know each other and are comfortable with one another. Try to enjoy a cup of coffee or participate in a team building activity with one another such as bowling or a group retreat. When everything is “all work” all of the time people tend to get burned out very quickly. When we acknowledge one another as human beings and not machines the lifespan of your projects become much more enjoyable and successful.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities – Always have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each team member on your project. This helps team members avoid feeling as if they are solely responsible for the project’s success or failure. This makes the entire team accountable and the project more successful. The collaboration will flow naturally and thrive throughout the life of the project.

Communication is equally important as teamwork. Clear communication and clear communication channels are crucial to project success. The project manager should arrange multiple forms of communications internally and externally by leveraging a clearly defined communication plan. Types of standard communication range from weekly client status reports, weekly internal/external client calls, emails, ad-hoc meetings and overall standard verbal communication. The project manager should maintain these appropriate channels throughout project closeout and even the project’s post mortem.

Ways to improve communication

  • Always have an agenda for meetings – To avoid awkward pauses and off topic small talk, always have an agenda to guide the time.
  • Ask clarifying questions and repeat what you’ve heard – This ensures accuracy and allows everyone to be on the same page.
  • Create and nurture team cultures that enable open dialog and safe communications.

The combination of teamwork and communication becomes the glue that binds a project and makes it destined for success. Teamwork and communication enable visibility into project successes and failures for the project manager and allow that individual to plan appropriately for future activities and deadlines.