Tips for collaborating with your project team

In this week’s Project Management Insights episode I provide you with useful tips for collaborating with your project team.  Do you understand the way that people take in information and how this might impact the way that they collaborate?

I explain different learning styles and how you can understand the best way to interact with each individual team member.


Podcast Script

  • Collaboration in a project team isn’t easy to achieve
  • Different people have different ways of working
  • Have you thought about the fact that people have different ways of learning and what you do in a project environment is to learn?
  • Let’s look at learning styles and the different types of ways people take in information
  • Kinaesthetic
    • Use words and phrases – feel, touch, grasp, concrete, handle it, boils down to, hand in there, vibes, throw out, hold on, sharp as a tack, pain in the neck, I get it!
  • Visual
    • Use words and phrases – see, look, appear, show, visualise, picture, crystal clear, diagram, take a peek, under your nose, I see it! Picture this, show me how.
  • Auditory
    • Use words and phrases – hear, listen, sound, resonate, I’ll all ears, Are you listening? Word for word, its unheard of, loud and clear, I hear you, listen to me!
  • Digital
    • Use words and phrases – abstract, idea, understand, process, learn, think, perceive, know, conceive, data, facts, figures, I know!
  • Yes, these are labels and yet I hear these words and phrases used by people all of the time when I am speaking to them. Did you notice what I said?  I used the word hear.  Yes, I am an auditory person, I listen a lot and therefore if you want to explain something to me the best way to do that is to talk to me, tell me, let me hear you.
  • Which group of words match the way that you speak most of the time and how does that relate to your way of taking in information?
  • Another way of describing learning styles is using this method:
  • Theorists
    • Adapt and integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories
    • They think through problems in a logical, step-by-step fashion.
    • They assimilate disparate facts into coherent, holistic theories.
    • They tend to be perfectionists who do not rest easy until things are tidy and fit into a rational scheme.
    • They are keen on asking questions and challenging assumptions.
  • Reflectors
    • Like to stand back to ponder experiences and observe them from many different perspectives.
    • They collect data, both first-hand and from others, and prefer to think about it thoroughly before coming to any conclusion.
    • They tend to postpone reaching definite conclusions for as long as possible.
    • Their philosophy is to be cautious.
  • Activists
    • Involve themselves fully and without bias in new experiences
    • They are open-minded, not sceptical, and this tends to make them enthusiastic about anything new.
    • They tend to act first and consider the consequences afterwards.
    • Their days are filled with activity
  • Pragmatists
    • Are keen on trying out new ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work in practice.
    • They positively search out new ideas and take the first opportunity to experiment with applications.
    • They like to get on with things and act quickly and confidently on ideas that attract them.
    • They tend to be impatient with ruminating and open-ended discussion.
  • Consider for a moment that you have a team containing people with each of these four learning styles and you are trying to make them all happy? Not easy huh!  Easier when you understand their own individual needs and ways of working.
  • Might also help with understanding sometimes why there is conflict, especially in those team meetings where a decision needs to be made.
  • Consider different ways to deliver the information that you have to share so that people take it in the best way for them.
  • What tools can you use to make it easier for the team to share information?
    • Think outside the box – use teleconference facilities so people don’t need to leave their desks
    • Use chat programs so that messaging is instant (e.g. for testing)
    • Collaboration sites e.g. Share Point or other cloud-based programs Xtrant
  • Be open – don’t hide information, share it
  • Ask the advice of your team members, they might have the brightest idea to solve your problem
  • Tell them what you know – why things need to be done a certain way
  • Build the awareness of the reasons for your project
  • Hold ALL team meetings, do them over morning tea so that there is socialising included (play too)
    • I have found this invaluable for bonding and getting the team to be more comfortable with individual styles and ways of being.  The more people interact with each other the more they start to feel comfortable with interacting.
  • See you next week for more Project Management Insights.  Next week’s insights discuss why change management is important for your project success.

Download the free TEAM LEARNING STYLE MAP to plot the communication styles for your team members.  This may help you interact with them in a different way.