For those working within creative industries, collaborating with other professionals is something that can happen regularly. Working with others on an exciting new project can be an amazing experience, and a brilliant opportunity to learn new things, network, and expand your portfolio. However, while generally, these collaborations are positive experiences, working with others does come with plenty of challenges. There are always different opinions and voices trying to steer the project in various directions, and without quality teamwork, it can be quickly turned into a nightmare. To avoid a situation like that during your next collaboration, here are some useful tips.
Get to Know the Team
You might be working with people you’re already familiar with, but if any new people are joining the team or your working with people you haven’t met before, you must make an effort to get to know them. Everyone needs to be comfortable with each other to make sure you’re communicating effectively throughout the project and can keep each other motivated as well as keeping up good morale. If you can meet in person, book a table at a local restaurant for lunch, or meet up for coffee or drinks one afternoon/evening to break the ice.
Agree on Goals and Deadlines
Once you have all gotten to know each other a little better, you can then move on to discussing the project in more detail. It’s important to identify what each person wants to get out of the project, and together build a set of goals for outcomes that will benefit everyone involved in the project (while keeping in line with what your client wants, if you’re working on a project for another company – their goals will be your priority). You should also set realistic deadlines that everyone will be able to manage, but that also keeps the project moving along at a good pace. Whether you’re working on a video project, a design collaboration, stage production, and running an event, everyone must agree on the project goals and deadlines set.
As well as determining group goals and deadlines, it’s equally as important to define each person’s role in the project. You should allocate roles to people based on their strengths to make sure each person can handle the pressures of their responsibilities and be efficient. For example, your project manager should be the person with the most experience in leadership roles, and who is confident enough to engage with a variety of people. The person who is best with numbers should be in charge of the financial management of the project, etc. By giving everyone in the project a clear role, it will help to reduce confusion and tensions later on.
Set a Budget
If you’re working together for a client, they will be the ones determining the budget, and they will likely have ideas about what you should be spending it on. However, if this project is just between you and the rest of your collaborative team, this is something else you will all need to agree on as a group. While everyone should be included in the discussion about how to spend best the money you have, the final say should be left to the project manager and the person you have allocated to manage the project accounts.
Hold Brainstorming Sessions
It’s important that everyone feels respected and that their ideas are being considered, which is why holding brainstorming sessions is essential. This might happen more at the beginning stages of your project as you all try to carve out what the final product will look like. However, you may need to come back together for further brainstorming sessions later to find creative solutions to problems or to rethink certain aspects of the project that aren’t working quite as expected. Doing these sessions in person is usually more effective, but if necessary, schedule a video-call at a time that’s suitable for everyone.
This is probably the most important tip to take away with you for your next creative collaboration. Communication is vital in all aspects of life, and when you’re working with a team on a new project staying in touch with each other and keep one another updated is key. While using your initiative to complete your tasks is a good thing, always check up on the rest of your team to see where everyone is at, and to make sure you haven’t missed any important updates or changes to the project plan. If you fail to communicate properly with each other, the higher the chance of mistakes being made, tensions building, and a lot of time and money being wasted as a result.
Recognize and Reward Each Other’s Work
To keep the morale high, make sure you’re all taking the time to appreciate one another and congratulate the team on a job well done. Think about how you can celebrate the little things, like when each phase of your project has been completed. Even something as simple as ordering a few pizzas to the office or studio to enjoy together would be a big mood booster. If you’re the designated project manager, make sure you’re saying thank you to the rest of the team for their efforts, even if it’s just via an email.
Getting to know each other at the beginning of your project is important, but spending more time with each other as the project continues is also beneficial. Socializing together by heading out for drinks after work on a Friday, or when it’s a team member’s birthday is a great way to do this, and it will help you form stronger bonds with one another. Not only will this make working together more fun and comfortable, but you could also make a friend for life. If you’re collaborating with creatives from other parts of the world, this tip might be harder to follow, although you could try to arrange some time talking casually via video chat if you wanted to.
Collaborating on a creative project should be a positive experience that helps each member of the team grow and develop their skills. It’s not always easy working with others, but if you follow these top tips, your next collaboration should go smoothly for everyone.