Having a clear and focused game plan can help. It's not a forced management plan that dictates the rules, but an agreement between all the members on how the team will work together. The plan is like glue that keeps the team together, focused on the key objectives of the project and makes the environment workable and pleasant.
The game plan is therefore an agreement between the team members on how they will maintain such alignment through:
Communication: The team agrees on the basics: method, frequency, media and levels of urgency. How will they update one another with the latest status? What upcoming milestones, changes or issues may affect the progress of the project? Are there any interpersonal issues team members may encounter?
Goal setting: The team defines the goals of the plan, whether it is being customer-centric or meeting deadlines. Having these goals at the forefront keeps the team focused throughout the project as a commitment to the team. The customer gets the added value due to the enhanced quality of the project delivery, and by extension, this leads to the overall success of the project completion.
Team play: This is the actual method of alignment, making sure the team has agreed on the parameters of the game and understands how it will relate to their day-to-day activities.
We're often put on a team based on our experience and technical expertise, rather than soft skills. We are simply expected to be professional and do what we can to work well together.
Having a game plan is simply a tool for all team members to reach an agreement on overall goals, without making assumptions or trying to force an outcome. It adds the missing layer that strengthens the team and adds assurance of alignment among all the team members.
When working in teams, what approach or method have you used as a contributing factor to reaching agreements and working well together?