A Few Notes From Cheryl
What’s so Special About Project Teams? This month’s feature article is dedicated to all of you project management professionals who have recently joined our community, and I hope will also be useful to other project teams as well. Enjoy!
March 24 Teleclass: “Beyond the Project: 5 Critical Factors for Your Team’s Success on Any Project” Many of you are leading and/or participating on project teams, which have unique needs due to their structure as well as expected deliverables. We created a teleclass just for you, so that you can explore the 5 factors critical to the success of any project team. See information below or on our Speaking page for details and to register for this f-r-e-e teleclass to help your team be more successful!
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Feature Article: What’s So Special About Project Teams?
Over the years, we have helped all different kinds of teams improve their working relationship and results together – large teams, small, family businesses, for profit, non-profit, private companies, public entities, virtual teams, intact teams, management teams, Boards of Directors and, of course…project teams!
I love working with all of these different teams because of the variety of problems we help teams solve - each type of team is different and each team is a different “system” because of the individual contributors who comprise the team. There is no “one size fits all” solution for every team, which makes my work very fun!
Ideas in This Article
For those of you who may be working on a project but haven’t considered it an “official” project team, or will be working on a project team soon, I invite you to see what aspects of this article could be applied to your team’s work together. For those of you who have been working on project teams, see if there are any new perspectives or new “aha’s” that come to mind for you and your team.
What Is a Project Team?
Simple teams: a team that works together for a defined period of time to deliver a defined set of results (e.g. launch a new IT system or re-engineer business processes for a specific department).
More complex project teams: a team that works together as defined above that operates in accordance with specific project management guidelines, methodologies, structures and principles (e.g. a defined Project Manager who structures the project utilizing principles from the PMBOK – Project Management Book of Knowledge from the Project Management Institute).
What Is Unique About Project Teams?
Many aspects, including the following three:
- Project teams are typically cross-functional, operating in matrix environments - team members come from multiple departments to work on a project, and thus have multiple reporting relationships. As a result, most project team members have competing priorities – they provide resources for the project, and they also have responsibilities to their own departments.
- Project teams typically go through four phases of evolution, according to Bruce Tuckman’s Group Development Model: Forming (focus of team changes from individual to team behavior), Storming (conflict emerges as different ideas are considered), Norming (trust and teamwork builds) and Performing (interdependent team members work together successfully as a high-performing team).
- Project teams must deliver high quality projects on time and within budget, which puts pressure on the Project Manager and entire team to effectively manage scope creep and all of the other challenges inherent to a defined project.
How Do You Create High-Performing Project Teams, Given This Unique Environment?
- New Project Teams: Start off your project with a solid team foundation! It’s a lot easier to kick off a project with a solid foundation of team communication and interactions than it is to have to go back and do this work later in the project if team members are not getting along or have created hostile relationships, so creating a team development plan before the project even starts will save your team time and money in the long run!
Case study: here’s an example of success with a new project team
Situation: A new project team of 15 who had never worked together before this particular project (a highly visible, multi-million dollar project) asked us help them start off the project together all “on the same page.”
Process: I facilitated a one-day retreat so they could create a common project vision of success, a set of team agreements, as well as other exercises designed to build trust and camaraderie in their relationships. Over a few months, we held follow-up sessions to build deeper accountability and develop an even broader tool set for the team to utilize.
Results: This team bonded with each other and created a solid foundation with many new tools/skills to utilize during the course of the project for their communications and interactions, which significantly contributed to their success as a project team during the project!
- Existing Project Teams: It’s never too late to help your team be more effective! If your team has been working together for a while (even years), it IS still possible to help them learn new tools and skills, and leave behind the behaviors and interactions that have been holding them back from being more successful. It just typically takes a little more development work for teams who have a history of challenges, and requires a little more patience by the team as they learn new tools/skills to replace the ineffective ones.
Case study: here’s an example of success with an existing project team
Situation: A project team who had been working together for several years was having significant personality and communication conflicts that were eroding the team’s ability to work together.
Process: We arranged for the team to take the Team Diagnostic Assessment to rate their different strengths and challenges, as well as surface most of their issues. I facilitated a one-day retreat and several months of follow-up sessions during which the team spoke out about all of the remaining “elephants in the room” (unspoken conflicts).
Results: The team resolved all of their conflicts, they created a set of team agreements that they held each other accountable to, they practiced antidotes to their previously toxic behavior with each other, and learned new ways to communicate with each other without conflict, all of which turned this team into a team that no one else in the organization recognized any longer (they even started socializing together after work)!
The above case studies are just two examples - I can tell you that the benefits these project teams have achieved have also been yielded by other teams, too – which means that it is possible for YOUR team as well! So, will you take one action TODAY to start moving your project team toward a greater level of success?
I hope this article provided some helpful tips for you and your team! We always appreciate your feedback and love to hear how you implement these tips, so feel free to let us know. As always, if your team needs some help or you’re not sure how team development could make a difference for your team, we’d be happy to set up a complimentary consultation. We’re here to help!
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"Beyond the Project: 5 Critical Factors for Your Team’s Success on Any Project"
2010 Teleclass Series
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
12:00 noon - 1:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Eastern
During this teleclass, you will learn how to:
- Improve productivity by optimizing positivity
- Practice highly effective communication
- Create and utilize team agreements
- Measure and discuss your project team’s strengths and weaknesses
- Create and utilize a project team development plan
For more details and to register click HERE
"Reduce Project Stress and Complications:
Critical Communication Factors Beyond the Project Plan"
Project Management Institute – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
5:30 to 9:00 pm
Sir Francis Drake Hotel – 450 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
In order to successfully execute on project deliverables, project management professionals must rely on their teams to function at full capacity to achieve needed results - high-performing teams which have achieved highly-effective modes of communicating are critical! Special tools such as team agreements, understanding how to avoid non-toxic behaviors and many other communication tools for success create these effective communication dynamics.
For more details and to register click HERE
Team Building Events and Off-Site Meetings:
Could your team use some help to be more cohesive?
Is it time to enhance your team's relationships and productivity?
Some teams know that something isn't working, but they don't know exactly what that is or how to improve it. Some organizations hold team building seminars and employee retreats because they know it's time to enhance their teams' productivity and relationships. Do either of those statements describe you/your team? If so, and if you haven't already contacted us to discuss your needs, feel free to give us a call to see if we can help you.
We offer a variety of programs to enhance the performance of your teams as well as improve the ways in which your teams interact, so we invite you to visit our Team Building, Training and Seminar page. This is a great way to show appreciation for your team and enhance their productivity, thereby improving the bottom line for your organization!
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