How to encourage positive collaboration on team projects

Team projects at work can be hard enough, but how you act can have a big impact. Here’s what you can do to help things run smoothly.

Team projects at work can be hard enough, but how you act can have a big impact. Here’s what to do.

Don’t have meetings just to have them

This is never a good idea.

Dan Schawbel, an author and columnist, writes on QuickBase that when leading and working with teams, you should “hold effective meetings.”

“Most teams waste time during meetings catching up about personal things. Before you start a meeting, have a reason for it. Then, tell each individual team member what they need to bring to each meeting and set an agenda. This way, you can measure the success of a meeting,” he writes. “Don’t feel like the meeting has to be an hour or two hours – make it more about the tasks at hand because the more time people spend in the meeting, the less time they have to do work,” he writes.

Treat people well

Use the Golden Rule.

Author and entrepreneur Kevin Daum writes on Inc.com that people who collaborate well at work are people who “work with respect.”

“Few go into a collaborative project with intentions of being disrespectful; yet it often happens, verbally or non-verbally. Disrespect is shown by being late, missing deadlines, being unprepared, hogging the conversation, quiet politeness or distraction by irrelevant discussion. If everyone shows respect by focusing each minute of activity on the common objectives of the group, the required time will be short and the results will be plentiful.”

Give people room to breathe

It really pays to do this.

Susan M. Heathfield, an HR expert, writer, professional facilitator, management and organization development consultant, trainer and speaker, writes in The Balance about how team members should feel free to speak their minds.

“The team creates an environment in which people are comfortable taking reasonable risks in communicating, advocating positions, and taking action. Team members trust each other. Team members are not punished for disagreeing; disagreement is expected and appreciated.”

Make valuable contributions

Don’t just stand there.

Marty Brounstein, author of Managing Teams for Dummies, writes on the Dummies website that someone who collaborates well on the job “functions as an active participant.”

“Good team players are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions. They’re fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines,” he writes. “Team members who function as active participants take the initiative to help make things happen, and they volunteer for assignments. Their whole approach is can-do: ‘What contribution can I make to help the team achieve success?’ “

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.