My best projects have been a team effort. The coming together of two entities, units, or even individuals bring different sensitivities and perspectives that can make a good project, a great one. As I reflect on my successful as well as failed collaborations, I have come up with a few rules that must be in place before the proverbial “best of both worlds” can come to fruition. The difference between the this-was-great, and the it-was-a-total-disaster outcome is directly dependent on team dynamics and how closely I followed the following rules.
Strategic leader. No matter the scope of any collaborative project, it needs to have someone as the keeper of the vision. Who is the champion for the project? Who is going to keep the entire team focused on what’s important and needed? Without strong leadership, projects with multiple stakeholders can move away from its original intent and the entire outcome can be compromised.
Implicit trust. Unless there’s trust among the team, the project will not succeed. Territorial and insecure people cannot collaborate. Eventually they will sabotage the project in an attempt to keep their turf or prove that they can do it better than other team members. Remove them from your team as soon as you have even a hint of their behavior.
Shared Credit. There’s nothing that demoralizes a team faster than someone getting or taking credit for what should have been a team effort. The leader must make sure that the whole team gets recognized publicly and that each member gets praised privately for their contribution to the outcome–specially your star performers.
Without these dynamics in place it’s virtually impossible to have a successful collaboration. After suffering through dysfunctional teams, I have learned to quickly assess the success ratio of a new team. If any of these elements are missing and I can’t fix it quickly, I will, and have, disband the group with no regrets.
In your experience, what else is necessary to make a team work well together?