We apologize for the Vanilla Ice reference. It was too good to pass up. Moving on.
Group projects. Teamwork. Collaboration. Sharing the workload sounds nice, doesn’t it? But what happens when a member of your team goes MIA and you’re left holding the bag? Or, when the group can’t agree on the little things, let alone bigger components of the project? Or, when factions start to form in the middle of a task? Any of these scenarios making you nauseous just thinking about them?
No worries. We’re lucky at Jackson. Uncommon collaboration is one of our founding principles, so we know a thing or two about what it takes to make it work.
When A Team Member Ghosts You
It’s unfortunate when somebody drops the ball, but sometimes it happens. What should you do when someone on a project doesn’t carry their weight? Count to ten. Go for a quick walk. Do not send that scathing email you have drafted in your inbox.
Rather, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. There’s usually a reason for their blunder. Before you go on the offensive, try talking to them in person or pick up the phone. Body language and tone of voice are important for these kinds of conversations. Ask them what happened and hear them out. Are they stretched too thin with other tasks? Did the attachment not go through? Did the dog eat their homework?
Whatever the case may be, give them the opportunity to acknowledge, apologize and course correct. After all, you would want someone to do the same for you. (See how we snuck in a little Golden Rule action there?)
Don’t Take It Personally
Let’s be clear. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, when it comes to a project that requires input from multiple people, feedback is inevitable. And sometimes that feedback might touch a nerve, especially if it’s work you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into.
The team didn’t jump for joy when you pitched your idea? A little disappointing, sure, but try not to take it personally. Default to compromise. Are there elements that would work in conjunction with another idea? Can you keep the general concept but change up delivery methods? Does the original idea spark an even better idea? Find a way to contribute without dictating and receive the feedback without getting defensive.
Us vs. Them
Watch out for this red flag when you’re in the middle of a collaborative task. At the end of the day, your team shares a common goal. Don’t waste energy on divisive “us vs. them” pettiness. This kind of setback can usually be traced to a specific trigger. Identify it, address it and find a way forward together.
Differences are inevitable, but learn to table them and focus on the project at hand. Remember there’s a time and place for everything. Arguing with your coworker on a call with a customer? Seriously uncool.
Seems like common sense, right? One would think.
Alright, let’s review.
- Be gracious with your team and don’t alienate them with an unnecessary @.
- Your colleagues are on your side. Don’t confuse feedback with a personal criticism.
- Ditch the cliques and play nice together. This isn’t middle school.
It won’t always be easy, but the hard is what makes it great. Jimmy Dugan said so.