June 20, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Best Practices
Get Engaged to Help Your Project Teams Succeed
By Art Petty
I hear from hundreds of professionals every year in workshops, via coaching assignments or in classrooms, about the challenges they have working in and on project teams. From almost every student’s worst nightmare, the classroom group project, to major strategic initiatives with high-level sponsorship, the complaints are consistent: we as leaders don’t do enough to support team development and performance.
While the list of things that can go horribly wrong on project teams is long, these 5 consistently rise to the top of the lament list.
5 of the Most Frequently Heard Project Team Laments
- The importance of the initiative is not clear. How does this connect to strategy?
The Executive Sponsor’s role is vague and he/she is often only involved at a cursory level. Aren’t you supposed to help us knock down some walls to get this done?
Team members are priority conflicted based on their involvement in multiple initiatives. Which one takes precedence?
The Team Leader doesn’t actively support the development of standards for performance, accountability and collaboration. If we don’t know what’s expected of us and how we’re supposed to work together, you’ll get whatever we give you.
The scope is vague and the customer is invisible. Hey, we’re not clear on who the customer is here and what’s in or out of scope.
No Rocket Science-The Answers are in the Problem Statements
There’s little more than the basics of good leadership involved in fixing these items on your team.
- Always connect initiatives to strategies, otherwise, they are just more work.
Check-in and don’t check-out until the team succeeds. If you’re the Executive Sponsor, you are responsible for the initiative’s success (or failure). Get involved to support, help knock-down walls and reinforce accountability. Never micro-manage, but do get involved!
Promote the establishment of team values and standards. Performance is a function of the team dynamics. Ensure that you or the team leader works hard to support the development of a team culture around expectations for performance.
Recognize and help manage priority conflicts. As the sponsor or team leader, know that these conflicts leave people….well, they leave them conflicted. Your job is to help sort out conflicts and negotiate priorites with team members and other teams and bosses.
Call a Time-Out if the team is drowning in ambiguity. If the customer isn’t clear and therefore the scope vague, hit the “Stop” button immediately.
The Bottom-Line for Now
If an initiative was important enough to organize a group of people and ask them to put their gray matter and to invest their time in dealing with it, we as leaders owe them crystal clear guidance on the 5 issues above and much more. Walk in the door today and everyday and look for opportunities to help your project teams succeed. Your firm will thank you, your employees and team members will thank you and your competitors will hate you. That’s a formula for success that balances nicely.
Art Petty is a 25+ year experienced marketing and sales executive in business intelligence software, retail automation, life-safety and building automation markets.
Over his many years of leading and building businesses into market leaders, Petty is most proud of the many great professionals that have graced his teams and have gone on to tremendous careers and accomplishments of their own.
Petty’s runs Strategy & Management Innovations, LLC, a management consulting firm serving Business to Business and Technology organizations. He also maintains a professional blog: Art Petty on Management.
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