Team projects have been a part of life as early as grade school for many people who are now in the professional world. Team projects are useful for many reasons, including their ability to foster patience, push leadership roles, and allow a project to benefit from the strengths of many. However, team projects can also be difficult for many team members. Communication is a staple during a team project, and it’s something that can fall short in many ways.
Each person needs to understand their responsibilities, be able to communicate what they need from the others through various channels, and they need to be able to communicate issues if there is a problematic team member. Having an effective team is not just about the work, it’s also about building relationships with one another and making sure each person’s work-life balance is in a good place in order to give their best selves to their teammates.
Understanding expectations and responsibilities
It may sound obvious, but understanding expectations and responsibilities can make communication within a team, and between teams, a lot easier. Work to understand the overall goal, as well as the goal of each team member. Make sure you know each person’s role within the team and what is expected of them so that you know who to go to for input, collaboration, and questions. Work to be patient and flexible with others in your team. If it’s up to the team to delegate responsibilities and define roles within the team, work to not only set those roles but also to make the entire team aware of them as to create clear lines of communication and expectations.
Utilizing communication channels
In order to avoid any holes in communication or clarity, it’s important to establish many different communication channels within the team. You should also foster the ability for team members to interact outside of these set meeting times in a more casual manner, which will help communication and a team connection. Within these channels, strive to communicate work in various ways, such as through visual presentations, charts, and reports. The idea here is to use many different communication channels, not just one. This way, each team member will have many different options to discuss matters within the team.
- Team chat: Creating a Google chat or Slack chat with your team members is a great channel for quick communication.
- Email: Encourage email communication as well to discuss more involved ideas or matters that don’t need immediate attention.
- Google drive: Google drive offers a feature where multiple people can communicate within a document to make referencing specific content easier.
- Video calling: Video calling allows remote workers the opportunity to take part in face-to-face meetings just like in-office employees.
- Brainstorming sessions: Brainstorming is a great tool for communication, building connections, and jumpstarting the idea process.
- Traditional meetings: Both traditional group and one-on-one meetings can be really helpful to encourage communication with the entire group.
Using resources for problematic team members
We all know that there’s usually at least one team member who is problematic. This team member doesn’t pull their weight, delegates tasks instead of completing them, doesn’t communicate, and it’s flexible with the rest of the team. In order to work through issues with a problematic team member, it’s best to arm yourself with clear expectations and responsibilities for each person so that they can’t hide behind the rest of the team. For bigger issues, such as insubordination, or even something like sexual harassment, it’s important to communicate the situation to your HR department. While a difficult team member is common enough, harassment is nothing you should have to deal with.
Allowing for non-work discussions
One great attribute of a team project is that it enables each team member’s strengths to shine while using other team members to make up for weaknesses. It’s an environment that is very much a collaborative effort between a few capable team members headed toward a common goal. Because the team is one entity, it’s incredibly helpful for morale and collaboration for the team to build a relationship with each other. One way to do this is to allow for non-work discussions to happen naturally with team members. The relationships that are created will allow each team member to feel more patient and understanding of the others. The work will be more enjoyable, and communication between team members will come easier.
Prioritizing work-life balance
One great way to communicate effectively and work well within a team project is for each team member to be the best they can be. This means each team member should focus on their work-life balance so that they aren’t too burnt out to offer what they can to the team. They should focus on getting enough sleep in order to stay focused and relaxed during their workday. They should eat well, take the breaks they need, and work to find a balance between being happy at home and being happy at work. Too often, employees feel like they should work themselves into the ground to prove their work ethic. The opposite is true in order to prioritize consistent quality work and long-term happiness.
Communicating well as a team will be a little different for each team and the members within it. However, there are some tips that can help team members work better and communicate easier. Through effective communication and collaboration on team projects, the end result will be better, and employees will feel more fulfilled in their team dynamic.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.
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