Many of today’s project management teams work on shared objectives while being geographically distant from each other. These scattered teams are often highly productive, but members run the risk of feeling alienated, less accountable to the team, and out of the loop—scenarios that could put successful completion of your project’s objectives in jeopardy. Avoid the most common pitfalls by using these tips to maintain your scattered team’s cohesiveness, morale, and efficiency.
1 – Maintain regular communications. Schedule frequent online meetings or conference calls, and aggressively push the project management team to stick to the schedule. Missing or postponing meetings should be a last resort, as mobile phones and widespread online access make participation feasible in the majority of circumstances.
2 – Prioritize team communications. You won’t have the opportunity to chat about an issue at the water cooler or in the hallway, so respond to incoming communications—and send outbound messages—as soon as is practicable.
3 – If possible, maintain a central repository for electronic documents. This allows everyone to keep in step with the project’s needs and flow, while also strengthening feelings of accountability to fellow team members.
4 – Remember time zone differences between team members, and encourage individuals to manage their work hours accordingly. Members will likely need to support activities such as phone calls and online meetings in the early morning/late evening hours, and a reasonable degree of schedule flexibility will keep them from getting burned out.
4 – Recognize individual achievements and contributions. Giving a teammate a public pat on the back is one way to foster a strong team-centered environment, even if it’s done electronically. Don’t allow a lack of visibility to minimize the accomplishments of your team and its members—be sure to include stakeholders and project management consulting champions on the distribution list for any kudos.