This is our second post in the May GovLoop Blog Series exploring how we can work to remove silos in government. Our first post focused on leadership and ways to become the “trusted leader” across government. We had some great comments and a fascinating discussion on leadership. One comment I wanted to share came from Jerilyn Handel Polson, as she stated, “Trust is fragile, and sometimes gets “broken” by events out of our control. Still, when trust in a work relationship is broken, a good leader takes responsibility by working to repair that broken relationship. Communicate, communicate, communicate.”
As we’ve identified the trusted leader as one critical component to work across government, another important trait comes from the ability to encourage employees to collaborate with their team. This process starts by building the right team, and putting together a group of employees with the right skills, chemistry and motivations to reach success of the project.
Below I’ve listed five tactics that can be done upfront to start your team off with a mindset of collaboration. Here are the five tactics to encourage collaboration across your team:
Find the Right Formula
There is something to picking the right people to work together and having a team with a positive chemistry. Collaboration has to start from the beginning, with teammates willing to commit to the group and not their personal agendas.
Focus On Communication
There is nothing more important to a team than communication skills. Focus on communication and understand that the best form of communication will be face-to-face, and if needed, try using video as much as possible. Another important element of communication will be engagement between team members. I’ve been in groups where communication between one or two colleagues is extremely contentious, and drains the positive energy from the room. As a leader, do your best to keep high energy while your team is communicating with each other.
Manage Tasks – Develop Structure
People will need clear tasks and responsibilities. Make sure that everyone is assigned clear tasks that map to the overall project goals. Let your team know how their work contributes to the mission, and also be clear about everyone’s roles. Also, it is important to develop a structure to express concerns, make it clear that if an employee is unhappy, there is a channel to positively vent their frustrations and keep the project moving forward.
Be Calm Under Pressure
When the rubber hits the road, a leader will have to be calm and level headed to keep everyone focused on their tasks. This doesn’t mean being unemotional about crises or challenges – but it does mean keep the team on point towards the project goals.
What tactics would you choose to build collaboration from your team? I’ve focused on a lot of the upfront measures you can take – I’d love to hear what you do when the project is unfolding and the team is settling into its norms and how it will operate. How do you keep the focus and collaboration?
Here are some related Project Management Posts I’ve written:
- 10 Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask
- Building Effective Teams through the Tuckman Model – Is it Useful?
- Lessons Learned from “Failed” Projects
- Do Brainstorming Sessions Work? Studies Say No.
This post is brought to you by the GovLoop Project Management Council. The mission of this council is to provide you with information and resources to help improve government. Visit the GovLoop Project Management Council to learn more.