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Advice for successful and enjoyable teamwork

During my time as Spokesperson for the Max Planck PhDnet last year I learned a lot — not only about organisational details of the Max-Planck Society and the German research system but foremost about collaborating with people. Two very basic thoughts about teamwork I would like to share here.

1. Communicate!

Tell your colleagues what you are doing, whom you have contacted and what you have found out. Use the ‘CC’ field of e-mail messages intensively and wisely: Your colleagues can (and should) use mail filters to automatically file messages belonging to this project. This way it doesn’t matter if too many messages are sent but everyone has all relevant messages for later reference.

2. Don’t do everything yourself / Make people feel responsible

You are the project manager and you know best about everything related to the project. If you do everything yourself it will go very fast and there will be little errors. But: Your time is limited and you want the project to be a team-effort. Only way out: Make other people feel responsible for something. Don’t try to control everything but trust in people (not in all) and let them do the job. Not only will you be able to distribute your work load, you will also see that people are much more interested in the success of a project if they have contributed a considerable amount of working time to that project themselves.

1. Communicate!
– Tell your colleagues what you are doing, whom you have contacted and what you have found out
– Use the ‘CC’ field of e-mail messages intensively and wisely: Your colleagues can (and should) use mail filters to automatically file messages belonging to this project. This way it doesn’t matter if too many messages are sent but everyone has all relevant messages for later reference.
2. Don’t do everything yourself / Make people feel responsible
– You are the project manager and you know best about everything related to the project. If you do everything yourself it will go very fast and there will be little errors. But: Your time is limited and you want the project to be a team-effort. Only way out: Make other people feel responsible for something. Don’t try to control everything but trust in people (not in all) and let them do the job. Not only will you be able to distribute your work load, you will also see that people are much more interested in the success of a project if they have contributed a considerable amount of working time to that project themselves.

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