How many projects have ended up in a nest of squabbles, impacting the project deadlines and becoming embarrassing public news? Building consensus not only at the beginning, but also throughout the project should start with the internal team, and is vital to resolving issues that arise later in the process with external stakeholders.
Over our four part Building Consensus blog series, we will explore the unique requirements of consensus building in initial project development, pre-permitting, permitting, and construction phases of a project.
To get you started, here are 5 tips to creating that highly functioning team during initial project development to establish a strong base for building consensus.
1. Establish a cooperative mindset
It’s easier to start cooperation at the beginning, than force it later in the process.
Key members of the team must articulate that a collaborative, cooperative approach is wanted, needed, and will be supported. This means rewarding project team members when they think past the standoff or conflict and solve problems together.
2. Scope the process
Take the time to identify:
- Team member interests
- Value team members bring
- Key issues
- Likely areas of conflict
- Possible options for resolving such conflicts.
3. Establish a common language
Establish an easy-to-understand project vocabulary or language to avoid confusion and unnecessary delays during design and development phases. Project managers can help the team stay on track by active listening and asking the right questions early on in programming and planning.
4. Create a road map
Refine how task and phase handoffs will occur (although this does not need to be part of the contract). Your road map should assist the short-term processes by providing roles and responsibilities, decision-making rules and procedures, and basic ground rules.
5. Build and reinforce buy-in
If nothing else, team members must buy into the team approach. The project manager and communications professional help the team build ownership in the process. Buy-in can be established through developing the tools discussed, workshops, team meetings, and team retreats.
Read further examples on these steps in Building Consensus for Your Project, Part 1.