How to Stay on the Same Page with Others While Working Together
Whether you work remotely, own your own business or freelance, it’s vital to collaborate well with others to complete projects and achieve goals together. Research shows that more than half of workers think that collaboration is key to improving project performance at work though companies don’t usually have an effective structure in place to work this way.
Since findings show that many organizations don’t invest in training that would facilitate better teamwork to complete projects, workers are left to figure out how to do this on their own. Here are some tips to stay on the same page when working with others.
1. Define roles and responsibilities with your team
Whether you’re working together temporarily on a project or on a regular basis as a part of a team, no matter what line of work you do, sometimes people can interpret your role or even their own role very differently especially if there isn’t a clear description of work responsibilities laid out beforehand. Whether this is outlined during a meeting or defined through a digital tool, you can quickly clear up any confusion about exactly who does what and when it is due by communicating this at the beginning.
2. Considering dodging email when working with your team
Using other methods of communication can better help your team work together. Whether you check in with each other once a day or once a week, you can reduce the amount of unnecessary or unwanted emails by housing a project with all of the steps needed to complete it in one place. There are tools like Asana and Slack that can help you filter correspondence related to work without having to receive messages from any random person that happens to email you.
Asana allows you to leave comments regarding certain tasks assigned to different team members if someone needs more details or a better understanding of what has to happen. This helps corral everything in one spot so you don’t need to fumble through a dreaded inbox to piece together directions. Also, if for some reason someone else has to step in or if something ever had to be delegated, a list of tasks, deadlines and other details will be waiting for the person who jumps in because it’s easy to see where the person left off.
Slack is another useful tool that allows teams to instant message each other using channels. You add those who need to be included on a certain channel based on a topic or project that pertains to them. No matter what tool you choose to make things run more smoothly, you still want to have an informal understanding of how often each person should be checking in to make this work well. If you need to discuss something daily, you might want to establish that upfront.
3. Set up a timeline but don’t be too rigid.
Outlining responsibilities can clear up who does what on a project but when that gets done has to be mapped out as well. Set due dates for assigned tasks and consider having one person in charge of making sure everyone is completing what they should on time. If something is taking longer than expected, be sure to communicate that to other team members as well. Better collaboration can also benefit you when working with clients since in the same study mentioned early, roughly 80% of professionals need to learn how to communicate better at work. In one of my last articles, I discussed the benefits of a proposed timeline when working with clients. It helps you better outline an agreement with them, it sets a realistic time frame and it keeps everyone on the same page in terms of expectations.
If you truly know how many hours a project will take you , a proposed timeline can structure how you work with your clients to set clear expectations about what will happen and when work will get completed. CFP®, Taylor Schulte of DefineFinancial.com gives a 6 month timeline for his line of work. This is built right into their contract. “I’ve found that 6 months is a good sweet spot. Sometimes we finish sooner and other times it takes the entire time limit.”
Schulte points out that technically there isn’t any wiggle room but working this way leaves a cushion of time to finish in a reasonable time frame. This still allows for flexibility while working with clients though the timeline provides structure and outlines an estimate of when things will be completed. Schulte explains that a new client recently hired him for a one-time plan and had to leave for a three week work trip shortly after. Things were temporarily put on hold and they started up when the client returned. He adds how keeping clients happy trumps everything. If that means making adjustments to the time frame, then that’s fine.
The Bottom Line
Clear lines of communication help people work better together. Consider mapping out how you will work together using tools like Asana and Slack. Also, consider a proposed timeline to clarify what happens and when it will get finished. All of these tips can allow everyone to stay on top of what’s going on and get work completely in the most productive way possible.