Are you the top gun or the most sought after resource to take your team to the edge of creativity? Project team communication may seem unimportant, but what happens if you’re the trouble maker, unwilling to waiver on deadlines? I’ve seen this happen, through my experience on dozens of teams where a project is stalled because of control issues or lack of agreement.  Here are some of my favorite tips for rules of engagement for your project team, especially if your team is virtual, so you can help everyone get along and stay on course.

  1. Be Helpful.  Of course you could say, “Can I help?” Surely your team mates will fall off their chairs, if you’ve never done this before.  For project leaders handing out assignments, consider assigning 2 persons to a work activity. This double team effect helps to reduce the burden on one person.
  2. Be the Best Contributor. You’ve been asked to join a team. Do you take responsibility to contribute?  If collaboration is not suitable for you, then ask to be removed from the group. It’s that simple.
  3. Be Realistic. Sometimes we ask too much of others and for ourselves, especially when a time frame is imposed.  Maybe you’ve heard this directive,  “Get back to me this afternoon.”  Try this approach instead, “If you can, please get back to me as soon as you can, today, if at all possible.”  Of course if you need something done right now, then ask politely, “The client is waiting for our response, so let’s give him all we got now.”
  4. Be Responsive.  Do you complain, “It’s not my job?” Well then, my friend, your collaborative mindset is misplaced.  Next time, I suggest you can fill in until the most suitable person for the job can be found.
  5. Ask Questions. Before taking a new direction or deciding on your own, ask the group, “Could we go ahead with the white font on black background?” This questioning will open up possible disagreement as part of the collaborative group process or expose additional questions, as the Socratic Method may reveal.
  6. Be Positive. Have you ever listened to someone who has a positive attitude? This is my husband– he is good at spotting a pit bull attack in a meeting and turning it around. Say it positively, even if it’s not a favorable critique. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
  7. Be Instructive.  When you see a team member struggling, offer to train or tutor him.  Sometimes a simple bottleneck like showing someone how to use a new feature in your software can be resolved by another team member helping out.
  8. Be Friendly. If you’re still venting or swearing, consider yourself unprofessional and counterproductive—it is so 1990’s. Decide to make friendly behavior a practice for your group. This doesn’t mean you have to invite someone to your house for dinner; instead, bring donuts once in a while or share your Mojito recipe with team members.
  9. Be Timely.  Important for individual and group success is to be on time. Coach John Wooden says it’s one of the differences between winning and success.  Helping his UCLA basketball team capture ten NCAA championships is no small feat.
  10. Be Courteous.  Most of us were taught manners at home and in grade school.  Is it painful to say please or thank you?  Get over it. Remember, your youthful innocence will always win hearts and will never grow old.

Do you have other team tips or examples?