I see that people find it difficult to consider “collaboration” an important part of good project management, and yet for me it is one of the key elements of real team work. And the best possible way to get the project outcome that you want.
I decided to look at the hidden value of collaboration to try and express why it is so important.
Here are my five hidden values of collaboration:
1. Increased work output
When people collaborate, and I mean really collaborate, as in share their knowledge and expertise, help each other solve problems, work as one team to get the best or better outcome than what is expected, then there is increased work output. Why is this the case? Well people will work longer hours, and take that little bit more extra care to ensure that they meet their deadlines, because they know that everything that they do/or don’t do, impacts on the other project team members.
2. Going above and beyond
I have seen people do what I call “going above and beyond” in this circumstance. They feel so much a part of the community that is the project team that they will do extraordinary things in order to assist the team. I’ve seen people go and grab meals and bring them back to the team, even when they have worked their hours, delivered their piece, and were one their way home. This creates a sense of caring that is wonderful for the whole team. It’s a sharing that you don’t normally see or experience, and something that adds to that real sense of collaboration in the broadest sense.
3. Problems solved in a cheaper/quicker/easier way
Problems are solved in a cheaper/quicker/easier way because people will hold impromptu meetings when they have a problem and get input from their colleagues in order to come up with a solution. This not only saves costs and time, but it usually means that the problems are solved quicker. Again this impacts in a positive way on the entire team and ensures that the whole team delivers.
4. Cudos from other managers and senior staff due to talk within the business
I have seen team members praised by other managers and senior staff from not only within IT, but also the business, because of the positive messages that are being spoken about the ‘team’. Senior managers involved in the team are talking about the collaboration and how it is benefiting the project. They will explain why things are going to well, when asked. Whilst the manager may not use the word ‘collaboration’ in their explanation, what they describe will be, and that is the important piece.
5. Offers of assistance, when you need it
When a team is collaborating, everyone wants a piece of it. I have seen other people, not even associated directly with the project, offering their assistance (as in resource time) because of great collaboration and the feeling that exists within the team. This also applies to others within the team who, as in point one, will go the extra mile and offer their assistance when it’s needed, even though it might mean them delaying something that they are doing. They know just as well, that if they get in a tight spot, you will be there to back them up too. That’s what real collaboration and team work is all about.
So, as a PM consider how you can create a more collaborative team environment.
Written by Karen Munro
*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net