It’s Week 6 and our French team members are in control of the document. Time to sit back and relax?…..unfortunately not!Rather than wait for an update from our translators, it was time to be proactive.
I contacted the U.S. students in an attempt to improve communication among the team. I again asked project members if they would consider using a WhatsApp group. I think real-time communication is more effective as it may act as a reminder for project members. For example, if I text the group informing them I am online it may action them to join me. Email, however, is a passive technology as people only check email occasionally. However, I didn’t want to make people feel obliged to exchange mobile numbers, as it may not be customary to do so in their country. Doing so may have a negative impact on the project.
I also posted online, asking the group how they felt we were progressing and did they feel that there were any tasks we needed to work on. I feel it’s important to encourage others and be positive for contributions already made. This can entice them to contribute further to the project or in an ideal world, assume responsibility for the project!. Not with this project unfortunately.
As I posted online, Andrew replied immediately. I sensed some “small talk” might give me the opportunity to lead to my next big question…where are the graphics you promised last week?! This assignment has taught me the importance of carefully considering choice of vocabulary before posting online. Communication is bad enough already, I cannot imagine what it would be like if someone took offence to any of my posts!
It’s the end of week five and I must say this semester is moving along very quickly. This assignment seems to be taking up a lot of my time, especially when trying to co-ordinate people’s efforts. Although I am repeating myself, it has been a stressful and frustrating experience so far.
Having assumed lead roles at the beginning of the project, both Fionnuala and I seem to be the only project members concerned about completing the document as our deadline looms. Despite previously attending workshops on campus at UL, I have not spoken with nor met Fionnuala. We have, however, developed a “virtual” bond as we both strive to finish this assignment. We suggested to the project group that we create a Whatsapp ™ group, however, only Fionnuala and I were the only members who exchanged mobile phone numbers. In hindsight, a WhatsApp™ group should have been created during the first week of this project. It would enable real-time communication, resulting in quicker decision making.
Most notably, our U.S. project members do not seem overly concerned about this project nor the impact of them not contributing to it. Andrew assumed responsibility for creating graphics and promised to upload a finished document last Sunday (Feb 19th), however, a week later there hasn’t been any communication from Andrew!.
As a result, we missed the deadline (Feb 20th) for sending the document to our French translators. Fionnuala contacted me early on Tuesday morning (Feb 21st) and asked me to completed Andrew’s tasks. Upon completing these tasks, I sent the documents via email to our French translators, also copying Fionnuala on the mail. Noting that the U.S. project members are on a break from March 13th – 20th, I asked our translators whether it would be possible for them to return a translated document in advance of these dates. My reason for this was both Fionnuala and I would be the only members available to modify the graphics and layout of the translated document before the March 20th deadline. The translators replied indicating it would not be possible as they were informed they have three weeks to return the translated document.
Understandably technology doesn’t always work and some people may be uncomfortable using collaboration platforms. Jenny reported that her university email address doesn’t work and to use her Gmail account instead. It seems so far on this project, the U.S. students prefer to communicate using Slack and the French students prefer emailing me directly. Perhaps the French students do not feel comfortable posting online when not using their first language. The project now lies in the hands of the translators and we wait for the returned document. Using my experiences of this project so far, I will be asking them for regular updates in case Fionnuala and I will need to translate the document ourselves!.
I am glad to report this week has been the most productive so far. With our Université Paris Diderottranslators due to return to college next Monday, our priority this week was to have a draft ready for them upon their return.
An important lesson learned this week was that some people will not be proactive when working on a project. They may even be reluctant to assume any form of responsibility on their part when working as part of a group project. As a result, the workload must be given to other project members who already completed their given responsibilities.
A project manager must be diplomatic when distributing these additional tasks to other project members who are already actively engaged in the project. It is important not to inundate project members who are already cooperative.
Within Team 8, both Fionnuala and I seemed to be the only project members keen to begin a draft of the instructions. As there was little activity on Slack I decided to email all team members. Jenny replied stating she couldn’t find an invitation to join ourSlack site in her university email account. As a result, I also sent the invitation to her Gmail account. This incident reinforces the importance of gathering the correct contact details of all project members at the start of a project. This glitch meant that we were without Jenny’s services until this week, hence it impacted our schedule.
Upon completion of the second draft of my instructions, one U.S. project member, Andrew, offered to create graphics for my document. Katie also offered to create the graphics for Fionnuala’s document.
By the end of this week, all project members had finally joined our group in Slack. Andrew also offered to take on Katie’s responsibilities, should she not be able to complete her tasks. Project members were now offering advice to each other and willing to take responsibility for project tasks.
I look forward to next week when our French project members return and we have a team full of collaborators!.
According to Newton’s first law of motion, “an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.” That law could also apply to our assignment. At the beginning of this week our collaboration tool, “Slack”, certainly lived up to it’s name as there wasn’t any contribution from either the French or U.S. students!.
Finally, there was contact from another U.S. student and also from the second French student….albeit brief introductions.
It has been a very frustrating week due to the lack of communication from the other parties, thus stalling our assignment. In spite of emails, posting in Sulis and on Slack, it seemed that both Fionnuala and I were going to be the only contributors to this assignment. A lesson I learned this week is that without having your full project team on board, decisions cannot be made and responsibilities cannot be assigned. It highlights some frustrations that may be experienced if working as part of an international team.
Although a project manager hasn’t been agreed upon, both Fionnuala and I are sharing the responsibility. In order to lead by example (and hopefully entice the others to take part), I created a Facebook account and documented the steps involved. I also added details of the various privacy settings options available. Once completed, I uploaded the draft document to our Slack site for all teammates to access.
According toLogware, “you must strike while the iron is hot and keep striking”. On Friday, Fionnuala detailed the tasks involved for our project. As we discussed this on Slack, Andrew (U.S.) joined in the conversation. Initially his responses were minimal, however, by the end of the conversation he agreed to contact the other U.S. members and took responsibility for sourcing graphics. As the French students begin their week long break today, I suggested that we have draft documents available to them when they return on February 20th. As we now knew our responsibilities for the forthcoming week, we signed off to begin our tasks.
In spite of the many collaboration tools available for use by international project teams, each project participant must be willing to partake, communicate regularly and perform their role in order for any project to gather momentum.