In our project based organizations, we serve in uber-diverse workgroups. Not only are our team members from many different parts of the globe, they rarely all work for the same team.
An organization my start a project with a small group of internal staff members. That internal team may consist of a contractor or two to augment the staff. They then call in a consulting group to provide expertise and assistance. That firm may have a few contractors of their own.
As the project commences, a we vs. they mentality can sometimes develop. The consulting firm has proprietary information that they can share with the client personnel, but contractors are treated as competitors.
The client has information that they share only internally. Before you know it, every time someone sends or replies to an email, they have to stop and consider who the recipient list should be and who should be kept out of the loop.
A project manager should take great efforts to make sure that every stakeholder on the project feels like part of the team and is included in all necessary project information
Have everyone sign non-disclosure agreements
Some would argue that non-disclosure agreements are unenforceable. But they do protect companies from trade secrets being shared outside. They also make the team member aware that you are concerned about information being shared and that you are watching. It will make them think twice about sharing information, knowing that they have signed a legal document.
An organization that brings in a consulting firm needs to make that firm aware that the project is owned by the organization. The consulting firm will be expected to share any information the organization needs shared, with whomever the organization needs it shared with.
Subcontractors, no matter who they are contracting with, should be made aware of the expectations for communication. Internal employees should look at consultants and subcontractors as team members and share all project related information regardless of their affiliation.
When groups of people on a project start sharing information with only certain factions within the group, people begin to distrust. People begin to wonder what is not being shared. If they overhear someone saying, “I got that email you sent to us,” and they didn’t receive the email, they begin to wonder if they have all of the information they need to be successful on the project.
Try to be inclusive, even if they don’t need to know everything that is sent out. It might be helpful to start an email saying, “This information is for <group of people>. This message is just an FYI for anyone else on this distribution.”
That lets people know that they don’t have to do anything and that they are being kept in the loop. There is no reason to distrust.
Create email distribution lists
Sometimes, information has to stay confidential. Consulting firms need to discuss billing rates or hours. Permanent employees of the organization have internal information that is not related to the project. In these cases, it may be best to create email distribution lists with those groups. It is then helpful to start the emails with a statement saying, “This is being sent only to internal employees of the organization because of the confidentiality of the information.” This makes the recipients know not to discuss it in front of everyone.
One of the most important aspects of developing a cohesive team is developing trust. If people begin suspecting that information is being kept from them, they may begin to develop distrust.
It is important for a project manager to make sure all information that can be shared is being shared. Nobody likes to know that they aren’t privy to secrets that their team mates have.
How do you include everyone on the project?
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