Advancement for strategic implementation is crucial for staying in business, which is carried out through projects executed effectively by teams. Building a team means essentially assuring strategic advancement.
Team building is both an art and a science, and the leader who consistently builds a high-performing team is worth their weight in gold. Team building requires the ability to master the “art of people” and knowing how to maneuver people at the right place and at the right time. It means knowing how each person thinks and how to best utilize their competencies rightly at all times.
To know your team means that you have invested the time to understand how your team members are wired to think and what is required to motivate them to excel beyond what is expected from them.
This chapter discusses how to check the readiness of a team member in order to find the right person for the right job, how to manage team performance, what are the leadership styles, and how to manage burnouts and conflicts, improve relationships, and enhance teamwork.
How is productivity dependent on the quality of a team? How to develop an effective team that is always the biggest challenge for an organization?
What is the most effective approach to find the right person for the right job to provide a strong foundation for building a strong team and meeting the challenge?
What leadership style needs to be ascertained that will bring the desired results in a demanding situation and how to manage peers in a team for smooth performance?
How do we manage working under pressure that increases the stress level in order to meet the target, which may lead to burnout that needs to be fixed before it starts hurting the team performance and the end results?
How to manage conflicts and improve relationships, which is a continued challenge? How can leaders ensure their prime responsibility of maintaining enthusiasm and keeping the charge for success?
The following are discussed to meet the objectives:
- Team Member Readiness
- Team Performance and Results-Driven-Management
- Desired Strengths of a Team Member for Project Management
- Leadership Style and Peer’s Leadership
- Team Burnout and Quick Fix
- Conflict Management and Relationship Enhancement
- Leadership and Teamwork
Team togetherness and cohesiveness is built by understanding the need for a task in the context of the project and the value it can add to organizational business advancement. A clear view of the bigger picture facilitates buy-in to form a team and enhance individual satisfaction. The defined phases of team building—forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning—should be managed effectively.
Productivity is dependent on team performance and needs to be managed.
After the completion of a project, the adjourning process needs to be effected as soon as circumstances permit. Team performance becomes negative when there is a purposeful delay in adjourning, which needs to be controlled effectively. Disbanding of a team is a logical way to close a project and must be effected before unsolicited prolongation of the project is experienced, which is an unfavorable performance, as noted in Figure 2.1.
Team-building processes are as follows:
- Create a team profile of each person’s work-role preferences.
- Check if there are any roles within your team that you have a majority preference for. Are there roles that a lot of your team prefers?
- Check if there are any gaps or roles that are not preferred by any or only a few team members.
- Generate strategies to cover any gaps in your team profile to ensure an adequate balance of achievement and engagement roles.
An environment needs to be created for performing teams; they don’t just happen. Special care is taken to facilitate a conducive environment for each team member to achieve and manage performance (see Figure 2.2).
Work Group: Guzzo and Dickson (1996) defined a work group as a group “made up of individuals who see themselves and [are] seen by others as a social entity, who are interdependent because of the tasks they perform as members of a group, who are embedded in one or more larger social systems, and who perform tasks that affect others.”
Real Team: A “real team” is a group of individuals who are equally committed to a common purpose for which they hold each other accountable, yet a high- performing team is one that satisfies all of the requirements of real teams, but takes their commitment further, deepening their relationships for which individuals sacrifice deeply for the overall success of each individual on the team as well as the team itself.
A Performing Team: This is the stage where individuals must “take risks involving conflict, trust, interdependence, and hard work.” The following are essential:
- Foster team mentality
- Customize communication
- Set clear expectations
- Cultivate consensus
- Analyze and adjust
The above-listed parameters may be achieved only when every team member taken on board has good fit of readiness, job connectivity, engagement, and meaningfulness, where the following are managed effectively:
- The life cycle of a team member is aligned with organizational strategy
- Leadership insensitivity is managed to enhance meaningfulness
Having cleared the two hurdles listed above, the task of assessing “team readiness” may begin. This evaluation is achieved using a series of questions, designed to measure readiness based on resource levels, availability, skills, dependencies, contingencies, training, and related variables. The whole point of this exercise is to attempt to quantify readiness in practical terms, make recommendations, and determine associated risks.
The primary questions are:
- Is the team sufficiently staffed to complete a project in accordance with the schedule and completion deadline?
- Does the team possess the necessary skills (technical, management, and administrative) to complete the project as required?
- What training requirements are urgent?
- What is the mix of specific skills or expertise required and how will they be met?
- What staffing contingency plan is made to account for staff changes mid-project?
- How is the project team organized for optimum productivity?
- Are the roles and responsibilities clearly defined and communicated?
- How realistically is time allocated in the project schedule to account for vacation time, sick time, and holidays and to deal with staff burnout?
- What is the motivational level of the team and what is required to develop a positive attitude toward the project?
- What is your mapping of team performance with a view of internal conflicts, politics, and conflicting agendas and priorities?
- What plan is developed for resource application and commitments from all supporting organizational units and external service providers to complete the project?
- What authority per charter is allotted to the project manager? Is it aligned with the needs of the project to assign project resources and deal with performance issues?
- How supportive is the project sponsor and what is required to ensure involvement in decision-making when required?
After having completed the above-noted assessment, you will be in a better position to answer the basic readiness question. When you determine that readiness is sufficient, you are good to go. What if you are short of readiness? Then, project cancelation or postponement may not be a right option. You need to turn to replanning using the following mitigating techniques:
- Revise project plans and strategies to compensate for any problems or deficiencies.
- Reduce or revise the scope of the project to allow for successful completion within resource constraints.
- Prioritize or change the project schedule to suit resource availability.
- Structure the project into manageable phases with smaller deliverables, and milestones that the project meets during its progress with customer requirements incrementally.
- Clearly identify staffing constraints and issues of project risks, involving all stakeholders of the risks involved.
- Manage hiring of temporary resources or external consultants to assist in targeted project activities, or to backfill daily operational activities.
- Prioritize projects in the organization for advancement and meeting strategic goals.
The key to evaluating “team readiness” is the old adage “knowledge is king” (and also power). No steps can be taken to fill readiness gaps when you don’t know that a gap exists. Readiness evaluations take place at the start of a project, and continue as the project unfolds, incorporating changes and real-time circumstances into the evaluation process.
Assessment of Readiness for Taking an Assignment
The dimensions are as follows:
- Skills: the person has the required skills to carry out the task and a demonstrated proficiency of a task.
- Knowledge: the skills are supported with base knowledge for making necessary improvements in and a demonstrated understanding of a task.
- Experience: the person has the working knowledge of the skills and the demonstrated capability gained from performing a task.
- Confidence: one is mentally and emotionally strong to make use of the skills, knowledge, and experience to complete the task and the demonstrated assurance to perform a task.
- Commitment: one is committed to get the task done and has the demonstrated duty to perform a task.
- Motivation: one has the satisfactory reason and incentive to carry out the task and the demonstrated desire to perform a task.
It is important to note that ability and willingness mutually interact and a significant change in one may affect the whole. The dimensions of ability and willingness are as follows:
The extent of one’s willingness in a specific situation affects the use of the current ability. The readiness level that one brings to a task has different combinations of ability and willingness. The continuum of readiness has four levels: R1, R2, R3, and R4. Each represents a combination of ability and willingness, as shown in Table 2.1.
Talent management is essentially carried out to establish the gap analysis of each team member to prepare for matching each individual with the right job and help everyone move to R4.
The following lists the necessary training, coaching, and mentoring for a defined job:
- The ability and willingness to deliver desired results
- The ability and willingness to reinvent oneself
- The ability and willingness to assimilate into the culture of organization
The first two points focus on hard skills necessary to perform, but carry no impact on the existing culture and diversity in an organization. The third point focuses on soft skills for the ability to adapt to culture and deal with diversity for positive results.
One of the most important tasks for any project manager is to ensure that a project is properly staffed and that the project team has all the resources necessary to deliver success. In order to properly assess project team readiness, you must first clear two basic assumptions:
- Assumption #1—The project has been sufficiently defined so that performing organization capabilities can be evaluated considering the project scope and the actual work effort requirements, goals, and objectives.
- Assumption #2—The project work effort has been broken down into manageable components (phases, tasks, activities, dependencies, and milestones) so that work assignments and scheduling commitments can be clearly evaluated against staffing capabilities.
Project implementation endeavor requires two prime personal strengths: team achievement and team engagement. Every professional has some distinctive strength in one of the two areas, which may be honed further with training, coaching, and mentoring.
Placement of the right person in the right role helps in attaining the height of performance. Work-related preferences are as follows:
Team Achievement: The three work-related preferences for achievement include visionary strategy, drive/achievement, and regulation/enforcement.
The Visionary Strategist
The visionary strategists are those members who are driven by an understanding of their role in both the team goals and the bigger picture of the organization’s strategy or mission. They often demonstrate high levels of creativity and innovation as they seek to understand things at a conceptual level. These team members like to think about where things are heading to or where the team needs to position itself in the future.
The drivers/achievers are highly competent at delivering outcomes due to their high level of focus on team-specific results rather than on vision or strategy or interpersonal relationships. The point of focus [driver/achiever] potentially cause clashes with other team members who hold other preferences. Team members with this preference often display a high level of pride in their achievements and thrive on self-improvement; they stretch targets and friendly competition.
The regulators/enforcers are team members who prefer highly structured and clearly defined roles, processes, and procedures that are uniform across the team and organization. They are disciplined in nature [detail focused] and perform best when they are treated equitably for pursuing [and when there are] clearly defined goals, targets, and accountability systems.
Team Engagement: A team touches the peak of good performance when one of three work-related preferences for a team member is matched with their area of engagement: helper/supporter, encourager/motivator, and connector/communicator.
Helpers/Supporters like to form deep interpersonal relationships with other team members and understand how to support and encourage others to achieve both their work and their personal goals. They understand what is really important to their colleagues and are happiest when they get an opportunity to connect on a personal level.
Encouragers/Motivators demonstrate their support for fellow members by encouraging and inducing enthusiasm. They use nicknames, humor, and jokes as a way of connecting with other team members. They are more focused on boundaries of [with] their work and personal lives than other roles. [and] Their interaction and communication with [to] team members is highly positive in a task-focused way.
Connectors/Commu nicators are group focused and work best when there are collective goals, with logical and achievable objectives. that They can clearly communicate to the team clearly and purposefully. They enjoy work that requires regular team interaction to achieve the desired goal. They support their colleagues’ personal and work interests and enjoy group engagements and team activities both inside and outside of work.
Endeavor to Bring All Together to Create a Performing Team
High-performing teams understand where each of their member’s preference is under the achievement and engagement domains. By taking the time to profile themselves and discuss how they make the best use of an individual’s strengths and manage potential role clashes, they are able to leverage the diversity within their team.
- Leadership and Teamwork (Ultimately, it’s the team that wins)
Leadership is a process, not necessarily a position. Leadership deals with human aspects and their dynamics, under a continually changing environment. The challenge of leadership is to build the team, create change, influence, and facilitate growth. The focus on these requirements changes with level, and proactive action is inherent in moving up from one level of leadership to the next.
- Work Environment and Cause of Disengagement
Undoubtedly, The workplace is changing at a very rapid pace, we like it or not. The problem emerges when many organizations remain trapped in the past, either slow to adapt or clueless as to how to adapt. The gap between how we work and how we live is causing team members to feel frustrated, trapped, unsatisfied, and downright miserable. To avoid this and keep workers engaged, the organizations must change with the environment and acknowledge and focus on closing this gap on a continuous basis to stay current and ride the change.
To succeed in business make team members to see things as you see them—Petterson
Leadership is taking responsibility to ensure that the right thing is done at your level—Slogan of TOTAL Ltd.
Practically everyone leads “double lives”: personal life, where one controls the technologies and devices one wants to use, builds and shapes communities, shares and collaborates, easily accesses information, takes loans on a house and makes purchases, and has the freedom and flexibility to live the way they want. Then there is the professional life, where we commute to work, use company-sanctioned technology, sit in cubicles, get more than 200 emails a day, are not able to effectively communicate and collaborate, operate under a command-and-control hierarchy, and need to get approval for buying even a hundred-dollar office product.
It’s no wonder that the majority of team members around the world may like their jobs for one key reason; that is, work practices, attitudes, values, strategies, technologies. [And] The ways of working are evolving and changing at a rapid pace where [however,] organizations remain stagnant when it comes to adapting to work environment, changing requirements for social interaction, and collaboration.
One may live in 2018  and work in 1970—this gap causes team member disillusionment and disengagement.
Performing teams understand each of their member’s preferences under both achievement and engagement domains. Taking the time to profile themselves and discuss how they may make the best use of individual strengths and manage potential role clashes, they are able to leverage the diversity within their team. Then, the following are maintained:
- A strong mindset for teamwork
- Relevant and meaningful purpose, goals, and approaches
- Continued buildup of commitment and confidence
- Enhancement of skills—including technical, problem solving, decision-making, interpersonal, and teamwork
- Skillful management of relationships from the outside, with a focus on removing obstacles that get in the way of team performance
- Opportunities for others without seeking credit
- Mutual support in the trenches for doing the real work
2.2 Team Performance and Results-Driven Management
Performing teams are cohesive and share a high sense of togetherness. The development of performing teams that are committed to the mission leads to respect for dependencies, cohesiveness, trust for winning together, and enthusiasm for success (see Figure 2.3). Leaders are required to upkeep the state of performance with motivation, and also to assign each member the task best suited to their capabilities.
The team is required to maintain high spirits to move forward, and the leader ignites enthusiasm to keep the fire alive with motivation, as follows:
M—manifest confidence when delegating
T—tolerance for failure
V—value the efforts
A—align project objectives to individual objectives
T—trust team members
Know the Emotional Strength of Each Member
The emotional level of capability matters for dynamics of behavior and helps create harmony with the needs and values of each member, as follows:
- Thinking fast and positively
- Focusing on details
- Seeing the big picture
- Avoiding frustration
Several external factors with varying intensity impact team productivity and need to be taken care of proactively and appropriately.
The factors are noted in Figure 2.4.
Team productivity is equally impacted by internal factors and needs to be managed; the internal factors are as follows:
- Organizational politics
- Policy for human resource development: Underperformers—help or heap
- Accountability systems
- Conflicts—don’t avoid them; manage them
- Negativity and difficult behaviors
- Communication systems and varying expectations of stakeholders
General behavior is important, and the team requires help with the progression of a project with results-driven management, where every interim result adds to the completion of deliverables. Team capability is enhanced with particular management of the following:
- Avoiding conflict and negativity
- Fostering positive behavior
- Motivating underperformers
Communication is the pivotal competence for managing the project efficacy. It is aimed at producing the following responses:
- Understanding the exact meaning and intent of the written and spoken message
- Being understood by others—
- Gaining acceptance for yourself and ideas
- Producing change or action
- Active listening, which only completes communication; parameters are:
I—involvementT—territory (manage space)
E—eye contactN—nod to show understanding
Successful project teams have an A to Z mentality and a good business sense, along with the ability to work with a multitude of people (and their personalities), and to multitask. A project team member’s personality is a unique one, and is often a perfect blend of toughness and persistence. If a project fails, the team fails and takes that very personally.
An old adage holds true for leadership: Listen more than you speak
When the job doesn’t get done, it’s the project team’s fault for dropping the ball, not the tech’s fault for not doing the job properly. When the deadline isn’t met, it’s the project team’s fault for not knowing the plan or the timeline inside out. When it’s over-budget, it’s the project team’s fault for not addressing any over-costs that were set in the statement of work. When it comes to project management, accountability is huge.
For that reason, the most important aspect of any successful project team is having a hands-on approach. No matter how you approach each project, and no matter what skills or steps you employ, nothing is more valuable to a successful project than the sweat and the teamwork you put in when you are personally involved throughout the project. Toughness and persistence work best to improve the project management process, and the key elements of rules are as follows:
- The project team needs to have complete control over projects (processes, tools, resources, etc.) and should have direct access to senior management for direction (progress reporting, changes to scope, etc.).
- It should be able to look to the project management office for leverage and support when needed.
- The stakeholders should be managed with bare minimum interference to complete the project.
- The change management process needs to be extremely streamlined and simple—free from bureaucracy.
- Administrative documentation (progress reports, change requests, etc.) need to be minimized so that the team can focus on specifications and content-related documentation.
- Processes and procedures for successful new projects need to be documented in terms of the improvements achieved and how they might be integrated into future project management and conduct efforts.
- Ways must be provided to reward good performance and outcomes achieved.
The Cost of Lowere d Performance—These pressures create a risk of higher burden, increased stress, lower team morale (engagement), and lower performance (achievement). The costs are often underestimated in terms of conflict, absenteeism, disengagement, workplace stress, lost time injuries, and lower quality production hours.
The Benefits of High Performance—When considering achievement, high-performing teams deliver services and achieve operational outcomes that exceed targets and stretch goals and have a culture of innovation and customer service that creates unparalleled organic growth, productivity, and profitability through efficiency. When considering engagement, high-performing teams engage or bond together in order to create stability to complete and deliver services with significantly lower levels of absenteeism, lost time injuries, conflict, customer complaints, and product failures.
High team performance is therefore about maximizing both achievement and engagement within teams, which begins by implementing an effective strategy to address each of the KPIs of success:
KPI 1—A Common Vision, Strategy, and Clear Actions: How do you know your team is aligned around vision and action? Are the vision, strategy, goals, and accountable actions regularly discussed and endorsed by the team?
KPI 2—Accountability and Performance Reporting Systems: Does your team regularly measure and report their important performance metrics within the team and to key stakeholders?
KPI 3—Leverage Diversity and Lead by Example: Is the diversity of personalities, roles, gender, culture, and skills an advantage or a curse? Does your team lead by example to set high standards or simply mirror the behavior of others?
KPI 4—Supporting Team Members’ Work/Life Goals: Does your team understand and support each other’s work/life goals? Are there regular time-limited opportunities to get to know the wider needs and interests of the staff?
Teams are expected to produce results, but performance is hindered when team members do not work well together. A collaborative team environment is essential for the team’s success. To create a collaborative environment, team members must practice the following:
Have a Common Purpose and Goal
A team is defined as individuals with unique skills and expertise working interdependently toward a common purpose and goal. Without a goal, there is no team. Ideas for creating a common goal include:
- Create and/or review the team’s charter.
- Discuss why the team exists.
- Allow each team member to express commitment.
- Create mottoes, symbols, awards, or posters that portray the team as one unit.
- Use the common purpose to prioritize team actions.
Trust Each Other
Team members must trust each other when they are to work together successfully. Ideas for creating trust among team members include:
- Be honest.
- Work to eliminate conflicts of interests.
- Avoid talking behind each other’s back.
- Create trustworthiness (you must trust them before they will trust you).
- Give team members the benefit of the doubt.
- Create interdependency for cohesion.
- Create a team mindset for mutual respect and acceptance.
Knowing everyone’s role and being familiar with the responsibility of those roles creates efficiency and flexibility. Ideas for clarifying roles on the team include:
- Review team members’ roles frequently.
- Relate team member expectations to the team’s overall purpose.
- Clarify responsibilities when action planning.
- Learn what others do on the team.
- Figure out ways to help each other.
- Encourage creativity and innovation.
- Define delegation.
Communicate Openly and Effectively
Miscommunication can create hard feelings and undermine the success of the team. Ideas for improving communication include:
- Err on the side of over-communicating.
- Seek to understand all angles.
- Take responsibility for being heard and understood.
- Work to clear up misunderstandings quickly and accurately.
- Reinforce and recognize team member efforts.
- Practice an open-door policy.
- Encourage team members to share issues and provide feedback.
Team members come from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and perspectives. Ideas for taking advantage of team diversity include:
- Remember that diversity is strength for a variety of thoughts and opinions.
- Create an environment of acceptance and respect for each member.
- Try to learn as much as you can from others.
- Evaluate a new idea based on its merits.
- Avoid remarks that draw negative attention to a person’s unique characteristics.
- Don’t ignore the differences among team members.
- Manage training for members to make the diversity effective.
Balance the Team’s Focus
Finally, team members need to recognize that they should measure and monitor the products and services the team provides as well as the team’s internal group dynamics and relationships. (Sometimes team members get so involved in the process of becoming a team they forget the reason they were made a team in the first place, or vice versa.) Ideas for creating that balance include:
- Regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of team meetings.
- Hold team celebrations for achieving results.
- Praise individual effort.
- Design individual performance goals that emphasize both results and teamwork.
- Assign certain team members to monitor task needs and others to monitor relationship needs.
- Encourage promotion of team instead of individual members.
- Manage conflicts in interrelation proactively.
The focus is centered on areas that need a balance, as shown in Figure 2.5.
Requirement: Participating in teamwork is part of an annual performance evaluation process with team members. Three strategies to employ to foster more and better teamwork are as follows:
- Make teamwork and collaboration with colleagues an “expectation” of performance. Define the terms and the team for everyone to understand.
- Create team rewards. Most team members on small business teams are rewarded based on singular efforts. This creates competition, not collaboration. In professional sports, all team members receive the three same rewards:
- The championship ring
- An equal share of the dollars in the bonus pool
- The label of a champion, which increases each athlete’s value in the marketplace
These three rewards are 100 percent equal across the board regardless of the athlete’s regular season contracted salary.
Businesses likewise need to create team rewards that foster the desired teamwork behavior.
- As soon as a team member is identified as having acted detrimental to the team effort, it must be addressed promptly, directly, and respectfully, by either the manager or a teammate (in athletics it is often the team captain and not the coach who addresses the issue on first or second instance).
The three strategies will give a solid framework for teamwork. Synergistic competence developed in teams helps advancement to desired results. The incapability of a team member in a particular situation may be supported by other members to overcome the lacking, as shown in Figure 2.6.
Leader-driven or self-directed team building is required to enhance creativity and productivity for the arising conflicts to be resolved proactively.
The biggest challenge for building a right team depends on a performing culture, a well-rounded project management structure. But working for your team, rather than having them work for you, isn’t so simple in heavily structured, management-focused settings.
Kick your bad habits and put your team first. Here are ways to ensure every member is able to step up to the plate without a second thought.
- Select the right team: Select a team in which members complement each other’s skill sets, experience, expertise, and personalities, and half the battle is already won. Build a strong foundation and set the teamwork bar high from the beginning. When culture and mission don’t encompass the power of team-focused efforts, there’s no way to ensure your project’s strength will lie in the team. Your team members need to know that you work for them, and not the other way around.
- Set team targets: Set team targets instead of individual goals; that will encourage collaboration and incentivize members to cooperate and help each other to resolve issues and achieve team targets. This will also help team productivity as well as the organization’s profits. Therefore, award bonuses and commissions to the team, not the individual.
- Define goals: Have the goal defined for a team and help a vision. Provide clarity to your members acting as task-doers and let them collectively achieve goals within teams. Establish your project’s teams and give each one a goal to accomplish in a short timeframe. This will allow your members to focus on the big picture, rather than accomplishing smaller tasks. Working toward team goals will benefit your members’ sense of ownership and responsibility—positively impacting your organization from the inside out.
- Focus on well-being: Ensure that the compensation structure is not only monetary-based but includes benefits that are important to team members. This will help build a happy, motivated, and committed team. Initiate team member well-being programs like health insurance for members and their families, in-house gym facilities, flexible working hours, and training and educational leaves for competence enhancement.
- Demonstrate team spirit: Asking members to adopt an inclusive mindset will not be effective when you are perceived as a leader who only looks out for self-interest. Maintaining discipline is important, but it is equally important to ensure that a team member may reach out to a leader when the need arises to discuss professional and personal issues that may affect performance. Trust and reliance are at the heart of developing a productive team; delegate responsibility, allow room for error, and foster a happy work environment.
- Valuing the person: Enabling is very much about recognizing that each person is different and thus will bring different talent to whatever they and others are going to accomplish. Leaders appreciate that most of us are conditioned to see things from our very own perspective and tend to filter out information that does not fit our mindset. They know that the danger of this single-focused process is in being too quick to dismiss ideas and opinions that they disagree with. Retaining an open mind means being able to “park” your ideas and opinions while listening to and clarifying the ideas and opinions of others. This demonstrates your respect for others’ inputs as well as providing other perspectives on the issue that you may not have thought about. Finding one or even two solutions to an issue is a start; however, the aim should be to generate three from which you eventually select the best one.
- Enabling and team working: Enabling leaders know that leadership involves a sense of duality with flexibility, as they need to flow from being leaders to supporters to leaders to supporters, and so on, in a team environment. Very few leaders have all the answers in a given situation, and at times one or more of the team actually has the leadership that is needed at times in the process.
- Learning to enable: Continuing to develop self-awareness, it will become clear how much ego comes into play when interacting with others. Leaders are very much aware of the need to balance their ego, as too much or too little can have a devastating impact on others. As you could guess, the way to keep learning about the impact of your ego on those you interact with is to encourage them to give you honest feedback. Receiving feedback often requires some courage, particularly when it is critical of your behavior; however, it is also an opportunity to display your humility and openness to feedback.
The Right Team
- Let them work. Do not poke your nose in everything and let the team solve things on their own. Interfering seems easy, but it leaves the team out of the decision-making process. Stop telling them what to do and start asking them how they would do it themselves! You will immediately increase team autonomy, responsibility, and motivation and create a powerful change in the way your team members make decisions.
- Recognize their efforts. Praise is the key ingredient for boosting motivation and engagement. Want a more inspired team of members? Tell them what they’re doing right and encourage them to continue onward. Too many members think of their manager or CEO as the most critical member of the company. Remove this stereotype and be the person to give the necessary pat on the back. This also makes the occasional call for improvement easier to swallow.
- Remove hierarchy. Your teams don’t need manager; “All for one, one for all” should be your members’ new motto. By removing the project manager or supervisor, your staff will feel empowered to work together as a team and the structure will form naturally. Your members will want to go the extra mile for the good of the entire team and the accomplishment of a goal. Why? Because there’s nothing worse than letting down your entire team.
- Dilute negativity. Encourage team members to bring up negative feelings of their own as well as expressed by anyone in team and deal with it upfront before damage may set in. The conscientious endeavor to deal with negativity itself helps diluting the impact in team.
When you let the power of your business in the hands of one or two people, you’ll be certain to fail in their absence. Build a team-focused business to keep you afloat under all circumstances.
What do you think? Do you place enough value on a team mentality?
What are the 13 most common words that keep companies from realizing their full performance potential? (Hint: They are 13 words that are very difficult to argue with.)
Those words are: “Hey, our goal is simply to put the best person in the job.” Can’t argue with that, can you? Who can be against putting the best person in the job? Except . . .
Research has shown that the best-performing teams are diverse teams. The power of diverse perspectives is such that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams, and they outperform even more capable teams.
Whenever building business teams, generally the approach is to round out the group by including a visionary, a doer, a skeptic, a client advocate, and an “historian” as part of the team, to name a few. And also, work out to include diverse backgrounds, whether acquired (time spent abroad, time spent at competitors) or innate (gender, ethnicity).
When one changes their mindset from “Hey, our goal is simply to put the best person in the job” to “Hey, our goal is simply to put the best team in place,” they will have accomplished a great deal on improving project performance. And it will have accomplished a great deal on increasing opportunity and diversity.
Human Resources Competency Model
The Human Resource Competency study conducted in 2012 by The Society of Human Resource Management led to the formulation of the HR Competency Model, which is gaining traction worldwide. It identifies four key areas, which help accelerate professional growth and eventually translate into high productivity and profitability. The key elements of the model are as follows:
- Build trust by developing strong relationships: Communicate with integrity and avoid factual misrepresentation. Policy change across the board is easy once credibility is established.
- Conduct an organization-wide capability audit: This includes the evaluation of customer service, operational efficiency, and the impact of innovation practices on the bottom line. The audit results will identify individual, departmental, and organizational strengths and weaknesses, which will allow formulating and recommending strategic and operational initiatives.
- Stay aware of the latest trends in the industry: Acquire the latest insights with regard to HR functions, such as talent sourcing and development, performance accountability, and organizational design. This will enable change management strategies to boost productivity.
- Integrate the latest technological tools: Advocating, aligning, and integrating technology for processing information and streamlining operations moves beyond automated systems for payroll processing. Use social media forums like Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with stakeholders in real time, spot and recruit talent to preempt skills gaps, and foster a connected and collaborative work environment.
2.3 Desired Strengths of a Team Member for Project Management
Strengths for the application of the project management approach are typically recognized as follows: A “typical” member won’t necessarily have all of the strengths—improvisation and organization in particular do not often go together.
Project management team members need to keep their skills sharp more than ever in increasing complexity. They need to manage complex projects and work with global teams who have a variety of skills. The challenge lies in how to devote time and energy to make sure that the skills stay current with rapidly evolving knowledge areas, especially of project management.
Typical strengths required for project/program/portfolio/EPMO leaders and members minimally include:
- Energy, strong work ethic—pace, long hours, willingness to stretch
- Commitment, enthusiasm—passionate belief in what they are doing
- Result orientation—focus on tangibly improving the desired results and bottom line
- Single-mindedness, determination—not easily defeated, resilience
- Persuasiveness—debate a business case passionately
- Problem solving and decision-making—zero in on essentials, decide quickly
- Improvisation—act now and sort out the details en route
- Organization—ability to turn chaos into order, systematic—bringing a unique knowledge set to the table, acquiring it personally or through team members or associates
- Integrity—communicate openly, no hidden agenda, deliver on promises
- Risk taking—breaking conventions and developing new processes to establish unique products, even create a competitive edge
- Planning—though a leader typically doesn’t get too involved in the details, he or she must orchestrate a high-level plan that drives everyone toward the unified goal
- Motivating—an effective leader must be able to encourage contributions from the entire organization, navigating the specific motivators of each individual or group to push the right buttons and inspire employees at every level to achieve not only their personal best but the best for the organization as a whole
- Communication skills that rely on active listening—far more than just being able to speak and write persuasively, leadership communication skills incite others to work toward the stated goal in line with the path the leader has chosen.
2.4 Leadership Style and Peer’s Leadership
The team mentality demands connection and building confidence among team members, and a leader may create grounds for understanding. One may ask the following direct reports in the first (or next) meeting:
- How do you prefer to be managed?
- What can I do to help you excel?
- What types of management annoy you?
- How may we enhance performance together?
Listen (really listen) to the response and then, as far as you are able, adapt your coaching, motivation, compensation, and so forth to match that individual’s needs. Further, take note of the following:
The best leadership style is that which motivates people to perform to their highest potential. Team members are self-interested; they will be turned on by what really excites them or most closely meets their needs. The simplest leadership style is that of problem solver, someone who knows what to do and earns respect by being knowledgeable, resourceful, patient, and decisive.
Leaders who are confident without being arrogant can generally get by with most team members. But to improve your leadership style beyond this basic level, figure out how to adapt your approach to different situations and varying human needs.
When you take over an existing team, the big question is what sort of leadership style will work best with your individual team members. Try asking them, but indirectly. Ask them individually what sorts of work they enjoy and don’t enjoy, what they would like to do more of or get exposure to, what they see as their strengths and development needs. In the midst of these questions, ask them to describe their best and worst boss. What did their best boss do that they particularly admired? This insight into their needs will enable you to adapt your style accordingly. Ask them to compare your predecessor against their ideal boss. In what ways did this person measure up (or not) to their ideal?
The next important question is how much your team members want to have a say in what work gets done and how. Some simply want a clear direction. They want to think about how to do their work and leave the “what” to you. Team members who want more will be most engaged when you ask them for their input on problems. When you want to move team members away from just waiting for you to give them your answers, manage their expectations by telling them you want to develop them by asking what they think more often.
Another dimension to consider is whether people reporting to you respond better to competent, factual direction or to an enthusiastically expressed, inspiring vision. You may need to find this out through trial and error. Most people have only a vague idea of what motivates them. How they behave could vary greatly from how they describe themselves.
Finally, there is your own comfort zone. When you are on the factual, logical, low-key side, you won’t be credible if you try to behave like a cheerleader. When you think about improving your leadership style, be sure to stay within the limits of your own personality. You will only lose respect when your leadership style appears artificial.
Understand Leadership Styles
You are required to have good understanding of leadership styles and when and where to apply them for enhancement of performance. The styles are discussed in the following sections.
The directing leadership style is best suited for followers who are low on competence (lacking the skills to do the job) and low on commitment (lacking the confidence and/or motivation to do the job). A directing leader will typically define the roles and tasks of followers and supervise them closely. Decisions are generally made by the leader, so communication is mostly one way.
The coaching leadership style is appropriate for followers who show some competence (may have some of the required skills but still need help) but are low on commitment (the task may be new to them). A coaching leader will still define roles and tasks but will typically ask for suggestions and input from the followers. While decisions are still made by the leader, communication is mostly two way and occasional input is requested from the followers.
The supporting leadership style works well when the leader is comfortable to pass day-to-day decisions to the followers. While the leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, control lies with the followers. In this case, followers exhibit a high degree of competence (strong relevant experience) and variable commitment (may lack the motivation to do the task well or quickly).
The delegating leadership style allows the followers to have control over decisions and problem solving, while the leader is still involved but to a lesser degree. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved. This leadership style is suitable for followers who fit the high-competence and high-commitment model. In other words, they are both experienced and motivated to do the job well. In some cases, they may even be more experienced than the leader.
It is clear that choosing the most effective leadership style depends very much on the person being led, the follower. However, keep in mind that development levels are also situational. A follower may be generally skilled, confident, and motivated, but he or she would still need directing leadership when faced with a task requiring skills they don’t yet have. By adopting the appropriate leadership style, the leader and his or her followers will build strong relationships, and the follower’s development level will rise to the high-competence and high-commitment model, to everyone’s benefit.
A Harvard Business Review article, “Why Would Anyone Like to Follow You,” by Goffee and Jones (2000) reveals that besides leadership traits, one is required to have the following qualities:
- Showing you are human, selectively revealing weaknesses
- Being a “sensor,” collecting soft-people data that lets you rely on intuition
- Managing employees with “tough empathy,” caring passionately about them and their work and giving them only what they need to achieve their best
- Dare to be different, capitalizing on uniqueness
Mix and match these qualities to find the right style for the right moment.
The following text has been adapted from Kevin E. O’Connor, CSP, who is a facilitator, medical educator, and author (Source: http://kevinoc.com/peer-leadership/). He focuses on teaching influence to scientific and technical professionals who are charged with leading teams of their former peers.
When you are charged with leading a team of your peers or former peers, the right combination of resources makes all the difference. The following techniques—which incorporate personality, encouragement, engagement, and feedback—should be at the core of every peer leader’s approach.
Many team leaders don’t find their work to be efficient, easy, or appear natural. These leaders often do not have formal training in leadership; they are promoted because they are very good at their technical jobs. Their former colleagues and friends now report to these “peer leaders.”
There is a skill to leading your former peers without encountering resistance, resentment, and regret. When your tool box contains a simple collection of thinking, communicating, and acting that is coherent, ordered, and intentional, your leadership appears natural. When you’re charged with leading a team of your peers or former peers, the right combination of resources makes all the difference. The following techniques should be at the core of every peer leader’s tool box:
- Use Your Natural Personality
The most effective leader uses only one tool: his or her personality. One great peer leader uses thirst for understanding and information. When a team member approaches with an issue, the understanding part is taken as a student and gives that person the role of teacher to advise on details and possible solutions.
“Any questions asked are merely a student asking and never use the words ‘I’ or ‘you’. . . only use the words ‘we’ and ‘us,’ make them walking out of office feeling better than when they walked in.”
By using the mindset of education, the pressure is removed from “teacher” so that no question is off limits. This philosophy sets the tone for education and teamwork. When one uses intellectual curiosity to demonstrate the possession of a correct answer, one could face resentment. The best peer leaders learn to harness their personality to inspire trust and teamwork.
- Encourage Relentlessly
While your team is working to create the next product, they want to know that you’re there with them. Sometimes that means that they want your hands working alongside, and sometimes it just means that they want to know that you understand their daily routines, frustrations, and joys. Regardless of which approach your team members prefer, they want you to guide them in the next, and right direction.
Your team will remember that you were there with them when you encourage. Today’s culture makes it easy for bosses to find faults, but you will have much greater influence when you frequently ask this question of your team members: “You know what I liked about what you did (or said)?” Be relentless as you look to find the ways that their input, skills, and contributions have benefited the entire team.
This is always of interest to the receiver; no one has ever responded, “No, I don’t want to know what you liked!”
- Engage Intentionally
There are few things more beautiful than a leader who knows how and when to listen and where and when to speak; the times to agree and those to dissent; when to stay with the team and those other times when to go out. The successful leader never allows these moments to be lost. Instead, they are always intentional. While team members sometimes want to be inquisitive, your peers want to be connected with you. With intimacy comes great trust and loyalty.
A consistent engagement with your team on a personal level (within the business environment) turns your role from that of a boss to one of a fearless leader, mentor, and teacher. This intimacy comes when you go beyond their favorite sports team to learn about their childhood passions, when you understand their family’s immigration experience deeply affected their outlook on international business, and that their self-directed nature comes from their Scout training.
- Seek Feedback
The best peer leaders are afraid that their talents and “secret concoction” may go unused, so they focus on how their team is furthering the company’s mission. When leading a group of your peers, you must have a firm hold on the secret formula that lies within you. Ask your team members what they believe to be your “secret sauce,” and be ready to listen without judging their responses. You may find that your team wants you to talk more at meetings, even though you might think you talk too much. Your team may want you to consult them but ultimately make a firm decision, while you may lead by consensus for you fear making decisions alone. When your team tells you what they want, find a way to do what they have asked!
2.5 Team Burnout and Quick Fix
Fast-paced progress on project/program implementation may result in team burnout that needs to be fixed urgently.
Neuroscience has found that everyone has a basic “seeking” emotional system, which mediates their drive to achieve, attain, and experience the fruits of the work on a project/program. Burnout is an emotional state in which the energy for “seeking” has waned, at least temporarily. It can be rejuvenated in the traditional way by providing compelling rewards that the person is motivated to attain, or the emotional system itself can be directly energized. Our conventional approach in business is the former, offering rewards that energize people to attain them. However, this is challenging because over the course of each person’s lifetime, they’ve had unique beliefs and experiences that have caused them to be driven by significantly different rewards. Fortunately, learning how to work more directly with emotional systems through body dynamics is beneficial. Primal emotional systems may be energized directly through a variety of somatic, or body-based, methods, including:
- Humor that prompts deep laughter
- Physical play that includes spontaneity and creativity
- Mindfulness techniques that prompt a present-centered awareness
- Music and dance that are designed around the motor impulses of the body
- Change of environment, break in continuity
- Regular exercise
- Work/personal life balance
From neuroscience and physics you learn about yourselves and your capabilities and you see reasons to adopt organizational techniques beyond the ordinary. The following discusses more on shaping group emotional energy to increase creativity and performance.
Management of Burnout
Burnout results from the continuity of uncertainty, indecisiveness, and highly stressful situations that impact productivity and needs to be managed well in time, as follows:
- Review professional commitment
- Apply personal management
- Improve physical well-being
- Nurture creative side
- Develop strong mental resilience
- Refresh with break/holiday
Signs of Burnout
Individual and collective team burnout should be watched carefully before the damage becomes beyond repair. The signs illustrated in Figure 2.7 help keep burnout in check proactively:
Indifference: not participating in the decision-making process and not showing interest in affairs
Intolerance: flaring up on small issues and taking every matter in a negative spirit
Cynical: critical behavior and negativity in all aspects
Bouts of Failure: failure impacts negatively on their personality and productivity
2.6 Conflict Management and Relationship Enhancement
In an increasingly competitive work environment, “soft skills” (personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively with others) are becoming pressingly more important than “hard skills,” particularly when hiring decisions are made.
A recent research study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified the following to maximize your effectiveness in teams:
Interpersonal skills: While your talent, commitment, and productivity are important, businesses demand team players who are able to manage conflicts when they arise and work well within team for shared goals.
Each of the following letters represents a step in conflict resolution:
R—Respect the right to disagree
E—Express the real concern
S—Share common goals and interests
O—Open yourself to different points of view
L—Listen carefully to all proposals
U—Understand the major issue involved
T—Think of probable consequences
I—Imagine several possible alternative solutions
O—Offer some reasonable compromises
N—Negotiate mutually beneficial agreements
Effective Decision-Making: In order to stay relevant and competitive in a dynamic business environment, you need to develop professionals who are capable of taking prompt yet logically sound decisions. The key is to be able to strike the right balance between playing safe (i.e., resources are not wasted) and taking risks to take advantage of opportunities. Decide a method for decision-making in a demanding situation.
Communication Skills: Exceptional communication, oral and written, continues to be a sought-after skill. Furthermore, a person capable of expressing complex technical concepts in layman’s terms is among a rare breed sought after by all.
After careful listening, think before you speak:
T—Is it true?
H—Is it helpful?
I—Is it inspiring?
N—Is it necessary?
K—Is it kind?
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Organizations that can anticipate business trends, initiate and prioritize projects, and combine creative critical thinking and conflict resolution in the workplace are greatly valued.
Managing conflict with coworkers doesn’t have to be difficult. Below are seven simple rules that should both help you deal with conflict and improve your relationships at work.
Rule 1: See Conflict as an Opportunity
Your perception of conflict has a direct impact on how it plays out in your professional life. If you embrace conflict and see it as an opportunity to better a situation or a relationship, then you’ll take on the challenge of seeing the confrontation through, regardless of how difficult it may be, because you know that the ultimate benefit of working through an issue will be worth it in the long run for both you and your working relationship with the other party.
When you disdain conflict and would rather lie on a bed of sharp nails than address a problem with a coworker, you’ll be more inclined to avoid it, mismanage it, or even deny its existence. In either case, your negative perception of conflict will prevent you from dealing with it effectively.
- Begin by breaking away from the following myths around conflict:
- Conflict is negative.
- Conflict is about winning and losing.
- Conflict, when left alone, will resolve itself.
- Conflict impacts only the parties in conflict.
- Your past determines how you handle conflict today.
- The truth is, only you can determine what conflict means to you. However, if you truly want to be better at resolving conflict, then it’s important to view conflict from a new perspective:
Right or Wrong/Differences
About the person/About the issue
- By approaching conflict as an opportunity, any reluctance you have will begin to dissipate with practice as your confidence grows.
Rule 2: Choose Your Battles Proactively
Take on the issues that matter to you and/or that impede you from being as effective as possible on the job and let the rest go. Life’s too short to be wasting any of your valuable time and energy on issues that ultimately don’t matter or that don’t impact you in a detrimental way.
Enhance your working relationships and apply the concepts of resolution to the team members and groups.
- Think through an unresolved or current conflict and do the following:
- Identify the benefits of resolving the problem for you, for the other party, and for the people impacted by this conflict.
- Identify the potential costs of not resolving the conflict for you, for the other party, and for the people impacted by this conflict.
- Compare your findings: when the benefits outweigh the costs, then you need to address the problem, regardless of how uncomfortable it might be.
- Always have an exit strategy (i.e., avoid, accommodate, let it go, turn the other cheek, or just walk away) for the irrelevant or unimportant issues.
- Be proactive both individually and as a work group, as follows:
- Solicit feedback from others on your strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to managing conflict.
- When there are areas to improve, enroll others in supporting you by helping you manage conflict more effectively as well as providing you with feedback when you’re not.
- Handle any and all issues when they occur.
- Periodically check in with coworkers to assess how your working relationship is going and could be improved.
- Role model the behavior you expect to see in others.
- Schedule biannual team-building sessions to further develop your working relationships, established norms, group communication, and team cohesion. Allow for any specific issues brought up by or affecting the whole group to be raised as well.
- Incorporate more humor into the workplace. Do fun activities as a work unit together periodically. You’d be surprised at the impact laughter can have on creating cohesion in a group.
- Learn more about each other’s personalities and communication styles. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the True Colors Personality Profile are great in helping your work group better understand one another.
- Should an incident/conflict occur within the group, don’t be afraid to debrief it with the group after it has been resolved. This will provide an opportunity to assess how it was handled and to reinforce group norms in the future.
Rule 3: Do Your Homework
The more prepared you are to address and resolve a conflict, the better you’ll do. This includes taking the time to think through the problematic issue(s), personality dynamics, relevant past experience, and desired outcomes before engaging in an authentic conversation to resolve a conflict with another party. It’s no different than preparing for a speech or an exam. With preparation, you become more confident, focused, and in control of your emotions.
- Always remember that the people who trigger you the most are often your best teachers. Why? Because these people bring out your vulnerabilities, insecurities, and hot buttons that actually end up revealing more about you than about them. That doesn’t mean that your conflict is less legitimate, but just don’t forget to include yourself when examining the problem. You’d be surprised what you might learn.
- When you find yourself judging another person’s actions without knowing the intent behind those actions, ask that person first what they meant or why they did what they did before attributing any motives to them. What you will often discover is that there was a well-meaning or humorous intention that went astray. Wouldn’t you want others to do the same with you?
- Consider thinking through these questions prior to talking out a conflict:
- What’s your desired outcome for both the relationship and the conflicting issue?
- In order to achieve those outcomes, how do you need to be in the discussion so as to ensure the greatest chance for success?
- Do you know what the problem is and are you prepared to propose a solution, if needed?
- Are you willing to hear the problem described from the other party’s perspective, including how you might have contributed to the conflict?
- Are you willing to compromise in order to reach agreement?
- When the conflict should happen to escalate, do you have an exit strategy?
Rule 4: Take the Initiative
Conflict is not about who’s right or wrong, who is more at fault, or who should be the first one to apologize to the other. The fact is that when the conflict is bothering you, then it is yours to resolve. Waiting for the other party to come to you doesn’t help you address the problem; it only prolongs it.
- Never hold onto an issue, a wrongdoing, or an unresolved conflict. Find a way to address it, resolve it, or let it go. This is about you taking care of you.
- The benefits of taking it upon yourself to resolve a conflict include:
- You are taking care of yourself.
- You are managing the relationship between you and the other party.
- You are not allowing a problem to fester inside of you.
- You are role modeling effective conflict resolution to your peers.
- You are holding the other party in the conflict accountable for their actions.
- When emotions are high and/or you don’t feel safe initiating a conversation with the conflicting party, consider a third-party facilitator/mediator to intervene. This could be your supervisor, a human resource representative, or an outside facilitator.
Rule 5: Focus “Out” before Focusing “In”
Focusing “out” means understanding the point of view of the other person/party before expressing your own. Why does this matter? Essentially, it puts the other person at ease knowing that their concerns have been heard and validated. When people feel listened to and acknowledged, they have a tendency to relax and lower their defenses. This not only helps ease the conversation, but increases the likelihood that the other party will be more willing to hear your side of the matter.
- Why active listening is so important:
- It allows the other party to vent.
- It provides clarity for you on the problem from his / her perspective.
- It validates the other party’s concerns.
- It shows you are willing to collaborate.
- It helps diffuse any anger the other party may have.
- It allows you time (since the initial focus is on them) to think through your response.
- It provides you with information that you may not have had, allowing you to respond from a more informed perspective.
- Improve your ability to become an active listener now by asking questions and paraphrasing in your everyday conversations.
Rule 6: Seek Mutually Beneficial Solutions
Successfully managing conflict means having the ability not only to bring an issue to resolution but also to do it in a respectful, collaborative manner with the other party. One without the other will greatly diminish your results.
- When you always treat the other party in a conflict with respect, you will have discovered the quickest way to resolution.
- When emotions are high, you are better off postponing a confrontation until you can be reasonable and rational. Unloading emotions might make you feel better, but when it is at the expense of a coworker, you could end up making things worse.
- Keep the discussion on the conflicting issue and/or behavior and stay away from personal attacks. By separating the issue from the person, you have a much greater chance for resolution.
- Follow these steps when addressing a concern:
- Begin by acknowledge the importance of having an effective working relationship with the other party.
- Tell the other party that the purpose of your conversation is to share a concern that you feel is impacting your working relationship with them.
- Describe the particular behavior that is causing a problem for you.
- Explain how the behavior is impacting your ability to get your work done.
- Propose a solution.
- Seek the other party’s input.
- Get agreement.
- Talk about how to handle any potential problems together before they occur.
- Thank the other party for his or her willingness to collaborate with you.
- Always follow up with the other party a week or so later to ensure that things are working better.
Rule 7: Empower the Third Side
In a conflict, there’s your side, there’s their side, and there’s the “third side.” According to William Ury, author of Getting to Peace, the third side in a conflict is all the people who are directly and indirectly impacted by someone else’s conflict. Although many third-siders see themselves as innocent bystanders, they actually have a tremendous influence on establishing a work environment that either supports constructive and functional conflict resolution or reinforces dysfunctional and destructive conflict resolution.
- As a team, work group, and/or department, establishes group norms and expectations around managing conflict effectively and productively.
- Make sure that everyone understands his or her role in ensuring that norms are followed when conflict among members occurs.
- Schedule biannual team-building sessions to further develop working relationships while instilling a greater sense of team.
- Establish and enforce consequences for any member of the group who disregards the established protocol for effective conflict resolution.
Conflict managed effectively is a tremendous asset that helps individuals and groups maneuver through issues, disagreements, and problems that are common in the workplace. These seven simple rules provide sufficient guidance and incentive to help you take charge of conflict.
Professionals build networks to help navigate the world. No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, but playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team. Athletes need coaches and trainers, directors need producers and actors, politicians need donors and strategists, scientists need lab partners and mentors. Ideas may come from one person but turning it into reality always requires teamwork, which is eminently on display in the start-up world. Very few special start-ups are started by only one person acting alone. Everyone in the entrepreneurial community agrees that assembling a talented team is as important as anything.
- Just as entrepreneurs are always recruiting and building a team of stunning people, you want to always be investing in your professional network to grow the start-up that is your career. Quite simple, when you want to accelerate your career, you need the help and support of others. What you are doing—what you should be doing—is establishing a diverse team of allies and advisors with whom you grow over time.
- Relationships matter to your career no matter the organization or level of seniority because every job boils down to interacting with people. In fact, the word company is derived from the Latin cum and pane, which means “breaking bread together.”
- People are the source of key resources, opportunities, information, and the like.
People also act as gatekeepers. Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, has marshaled evidence that shows that when it comes to getting promoted on job, strong relationships and being on good terms with your boss and peers matter more than competence. This is not nefarious nepotism or politics (though sometimes it’s that). There’s a good explanation: A slightly-less-competent person who gets along with others and contributes on a team may be better for the company than somebody who’s 100 percent competent but isn’t a team player.
- Finally, relationships matter because the people you spend time with shape who you are and who you become. Behavior and beliefs are contagious: You easily “catch” the emotional state of your friends, imitate their actions, and absorb their values as your own. If your friends are the types of people who get stuff done, chances are you’ll also be that way, too. The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already on the way to being the person you want to be.
Importance of Your Team
- Building the right team of project professionals is the foremost capability of project managers.
- In spite of the hero-obsessed culture you witness in the market, the fact remains that nothing important in life is done alone. When you survey how a company of note like General Electric achieved its behemoth status, you’ll probably hear about Jack Welch, but not a peep about the team he built around him. And when you ask about the career of Jack Welch, you’ll hear that he got to the top of the totem pole because of things like hard work, intelligence, and creativity.
- Typically, business schools rarely teach relationship-building skills. It’s all about you, you, you, and you. We rarely talk about the friends, allies, and colleagues that make us who we are? In part, it’s because the idea of a self-made man makes for a good story, and stories are how we process a messy, complex world. Good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end; drama; clear causation; a hero and a villain. It’s easier to tell stories that neglect the surrounding cast.
- It is impossible to dissociate an individual from the environment of which he is a part. No story of achievement should ever be removed from its broader social context.
- Yes, of course all credit goes to a person who builds a team and surrounds himself with individuals helpful in advancement of the purpose.
- A team is made up of individuals with different strengths and abilities. Research shows that a team in the business world wi ll tend to perform at the level of the worst individual team member. Your individual talent and hard work may not be sufficient for success, but it’s absolutely necessary that both the individual and the team matter. “I” versus “We” is a false choice. It’s both.
- Your career success depends on both your individual capabilities and your network’s ability to magnify them. Think of it asIto the super script We. An individual’s power is raised exponentially with the help of a team (a network). But just as zero to the one-hundredth power is still zero, there’s no team without the individual.
Maintaining a team requires interpersonal skills. The essentials of interpersonal skills are depicted in Figure 2. 8.
- Risk taking in team: Developing a mindset for teamwork helps individuals take risks because the success of the team means the success of its members.
- Constructive criticism: The desire for team success pushes individuals to improve in performance and offer constructive criticism for corrective actions.
- Objectivity: Team members need to stay focused on the team purpose and the desired results.
- Active listening: This helps effective communication and advancement.
- Benefits of the doubt: This helps maintain team trust and purposeful relationships.
- Members’ interest: Accommodation of and support for team members’ interests help team progress.
The most important task for a project manager is to ensure that a project is properly staffed and that the project team has all the resources necessary to deliver success. In order to properly assess project team readiness, you must first clear two basic assumptions:
- Assumption #1—The project has been sufficiently defined so that performing organization’s capabilities can be evaluated considering the project scope and actual work effort requirements, goals, and objectives.
- Assumption #2—The project work effort has been broken down into manageable components (phases, tasks, activities, dependencies, and milestones) so that work assignments and scheduling commitments may be clearly evaluated against staffing capabilities.
2.7 Leadership and Teamwork
Project management is leadership intensive and starts from the level of an individual team member. Learning self-leadership skills is mandatory for each team member. Not many members regard themselves poor team players. They are content with their share of the work; getting along with team members and not stabbing anyone in the back is usually considered enough to rate themselves good team players. It is the responsibility of each team member to learn self-leadership skills to incorporate the best into teamwork.
- The increasing complexity of modern work demands much more intensive teamwork than just going along with the flow.
- In reality, many members do not realize that they are not good team players at all. They are in a team for a position and take advantage of others, being hypercompetitive and shooting others down who seem to be getting ahead of them. There is no question that personal success at work is a competitive game that only a few can win. All members need to differentiate themselves, to show how they are better prepared for a bigger job than their colleagues.
- The best members know that a good team player is one who has key leadership role competencies. No doubt it is critical to achieve great results, but demanding requirements of project implementation has no place for Lone Ranger types who feel they can do it on their own.
- It is critical to realize that getting the job done is more important for stakeholders who may not give their support to backstabbers or selfish loners. The key is to know how to compete while being a team player at the same time. It’s a matter of getting the balance right. Self-leaders know how to make themselves look good while making others feel good too.
- Active team players, when asked for help, are always willing to help, even if they contribute as little as possible. They are friendly and quick to offer advice when asked for suggestions. In meetings, they play an active part and they keep key people up to date with progress on their objectives.
- Members with leadership potential see team effectiveness as a leadership opportunity. They realize that they will achieve more by working with others and that they will get more done with the active support of colleagues.
- The organization’s future leaders take proactive steps to improve the effectiveness of their teams. In meetings, they don’t restrict themselves to offering input on the content of the discussion. They actively try to bring the best out of others by asking them what they think and stimulating them to think more deeply.
- Leaders make a sharp distinction between process and content. They offer some content on the subject under discussion, but they also place a lot of emphasis on process. This means helping to refocus the discussion when it gets sidetracked, summarizing periodically, seeking consensus, and drawing out quieter team members. Not only do they not shoot people down when they disagree with them, they list features they like about a colleague’s idea before asking questions about possible problems with it.
- Potential leaders make colleagues feel valued by showing interest in their ideas. When they disagree, they position their disagreement so as to create the impression that they are building on the ideas of others, not saying that everyone else is wrong.
- The most effective team players know the importance of encouraging people in order to motivate them to contribute even more.
- Encouraging does not mean agreeing with whatever anyone else says. It means saying something positive and asking to hear more. Questions about potential pitfalls of an idea may be asked in a way that sounds like genuine advice is being sought. This is infinitely more supportive than sarcastic questions that make people feel stupid.
Members with leadership potential reduce conflict and disharmony in a team. They are good at selection of words and body language to respect a diversity of ideas and thoughts.
They know how to get people focused on what they have in common, whether it is shared values, shared objectives, or the bigger picture. They use humor to defuse tension and they know how to help people depersonalize issues. They make people excited about their work by showing enthusiasm and a sense of urgency.
The most critical aspect in team building is to reach to the right person. This has been discussed in detail in the first section on the assessment of readiness of a team member. The established gap in assessment may help to ascertain the training need when necessary.
Team performance for results-driven management is discussed to help incremental advancement on a project and manage successful deliverables.
Choosing from the various leadership styles is critical in order to manage a given situation and make advancement in the right direction.
Working under stressful situations for project implementation may lead to team burnout, which needs a quick fix, that is, managing team performance without any negative impact. High-paced work environment needs effective conflict management to maintain relationships.
Goffee, R., and G. Jones. 2000. “Why Would Anyone Like to Follow You.” Harvard Business Review 78, no. 5, pp. 62–70.
Guzzo, R.A., and M.W. Dickson. 1996. “Teams in Organizations: Recent Research on Performance and Effectiveness.” Annual Review of Psychology 47, pp. 307–338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.47.1.307
Human Resource Competency study conducted in 2012 by The Society of Human Resource Management led to the formulation of the HR Competency Model. https://rbl.net/news/detail/the-rbl-group-announces-the-results-of-the-2012-hr-competency-study
National Association of Colleges and Employers. “Research Has Identified How to Maximize Your Effectiveness in Teams.” http://www.naceweb.org/career-readiness/competencies/career-readiness-defined/
O’Connor, K.E. “Peers Leadership.” http://kevinoc.com/peer-leadership/