How to create a collaborative environment for your project team

One small change in a project can have a huge impact on the entire team and the entire organization. As a project manager, it is essential to create a path for collaboration.
This is often easier said than done.
Elizabeth Harrin, founder and author of Collaboration tools for project managers and Girl’s Guide to PM, was recently interviewed by Time Limit to give her advice on how to create a culture that encourages collaboration in your project team. Here’s what she had.
Listen to Episode 07 for the complete interview to learn how to address communication issues, how technology impacts project managers, and what the future holds.
Four things that good collaboration cultures have in common
Let’s start with the building blocks that make up a collaborative environment.
1. Trust
Imagine how you can transform a team culture that is disengaged into one where people like each other and actually want work. That’s the power and potential of trust!
Trust is the key ingredient to any collaborative environment. It creates a culture that encourages transparency and trust. People who trust one another talk to each others. They are eager to share their knowledge and will admit to being behind on a task if necessary.
2. Open sharing
Sharing is caring. However, some subject matter experts in companies hold on to another well-known saying: Knowledge is power.
This can make it difficult to obtain the essential information needed to keep a project moving forward.
Elizabeth explains that a successful collaborative culture removes that. “You shouldn’t be in a position where people want to hold onto their knowledge. That will make it difficult for other people to do their jobs effectively and create silos and barriers.” Elizabeth says that if you want your projects and programs to succeed, you have to break down those barriers and allow people who are familiar with their subject matter to share it while still maintaining their status within the organization.
3. Executive buy-in
Trust and sharing make collaboration much easier when they are ingrained in the company culture. This kind of influence comes from the top.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to create a team environment that is collaborative. As a leader, the most important thing you can do is to create the culture and then let your team do their jobs.
4. Collaboration tools
This should not be a surprise. Elizabeth states that it is difficult to create a collaborative environment when you don’t have the tools to help.
The tools you use will vary depending on your project and the collaboration style of your team. To avoid confusion, make sure everyone is on the same page about when and how to use each tool in your collaboration platform. Slack might be used for “deskside” conversations, while TeamGantt is used for file uploads and project updates.
You can streamline project collaboration by integrating multiple tools that you use to manage and communicate with projects.
How to encourage effective project collaboration in your team
Now that you understand the components of a collaborative team culture let’s discuss how to make it work.
It is no secret that projects run better when people work together. Effective collaboration is not something that happens naturally in project teams, especially if there are people who have never worked together before.
Elizabeth states that people shouldn’t expect to be able to work together harmoniously and get along well at the beginning. You must put in some effort to create a culture that encourages sharing. Here are two simple ways you can foster collaboration within your team.
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