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A Project Isn’t About Us vs. Them

tug-of-warIt can be incredibly easy for a project to slip into a pattern which can be defined as “Us vs. Them”. I am sure that you don’t want this to happen but not wanting something to happen isn’t enough to make it so.

So how will you make sure that this kind of potentially damaging rift doesn’t happen in the projects you run? There are a few different ideas you could use, so let’s take a look at some of the ones which could be most useful to you.

Share Ideas

Probably the most effective way of making sure that everyone on the project works together is to make them all feel a part of it. If your stakeholders or end users think that you are imposing something on them or ignoring their ideas then it is going to be easy for them to see this as some sort of battle instead of a collaboration. To do this one step you should definitely consider is that of sharing ideas with them. This is easy to do and can also be enjoyable. What you will find is that everyone who contributes to your ideas feels more involved in the piece of work and part of a big team working to provide the best possible solution. From the business point of view they won’t feel as though something is being imposed upon them and from your point of view it should be an easier and more enjoyable project to run. You might find that you get great ideas from unexpected people which help you produce better solutions than you would otherwise have come up with.

Share Information

As well as sharing ideas you also need to be careful that you share the information you have. You might not do this at times because you are busy or don’t think that it is particularly important to do. However, by neglecting to do this you run the risk of leaving your stakeholders feeling as though they are on the outside looking in. Sharing information well simply means giving out the necessary updates to the right people on a regular basis. If you build this step into your working week then it will soon become second nature for you to send out reports and give the right level of detail at your project meetings. If you don’t do it then don’t be surprised if the people outside your team start thinking in a “us and them” type of way, as they will think that your project team is hogging all of the information.  Be open with what you know and you will let everyone see that you are all in together and working towards the same goal.

Build Bridges

No matter how you do it there is no doubt that you need to look to build some bridges between the different teams who have an interest in the work. As the project manager you are the person who is in the best position to do this and who should be most interested in doing so as well. Arranging workshops and informal get togethers are great ways of doing this. You might want to think about sending out someone from the project team to sit with a few business people and chat about the system and what they really need. It can also be extremely beneficial to get a business expert into your team on a short basis, to pass on their wisdom and experience as well as to strengthen relations between the project team and the business area into the bargain.

Mind Your Language

It can be easy to slip into a way of talking and writing which accentuates the gap between your project team and the rest of the people who have an interest in the piece of work you are dealing with. While this is something which you would probably do without thinking about it there are some clear dangers in doing this. For a start, the very people that you want to get more involved in the project could feel left out if you use language which makes it appear that they are on the outside looking in. You should be clear from the start of the project about the words which you want to avoid and those which you want to use. For example, you will want to talk about the team in the wider sense, as being everyone who has a part to play in the piece of work and whom you want to see get involved and help out.

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