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Don’t Expect Project Management Teamwork, Lead It!

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.- John C. Maxwell

[otw_shortcode_dropcap label=”P” font=”Dancing Script” background_color_class=”otw-blue-background” size=”large” border=”border” border_color_class=”otw-silver-border” shadow=”shadow”][/otw_shortcode_dropcap]rojects bring diverse people together to work toward a common project goal. That doesn’t mean these people are a team. Often they are skilled individuals who will contribute their expertise. Don’t assume they will get along nor demand that they do. You can’t solve interaction trouble with assumptions or mandates.
Instead, understand why/when they might not get along. Plan ahead for it and lead from there.

10 Reasons Project Team Members Don’t Get Along

  1. Project team goals and acceptable team behaviors aren’t clear. What is expected of each team member? To do their work? To communicate with everyone in a timely manner to reach project success? Or to help others get their work done? Project managers focus on tasks and interdependencies. Great project managers have project teams discuss and outline the behaviors everyone will use for project success.
  2. They have different personal career goals which impact their behavior at work. When people join a project team, they are still focused on their own careers at that company. If they aspire to be a positional leader, they sometimes act like “the leader” instead of collaborating as a team member. Help them to see that modern day leaders collaborate!
  3. They slow or stop interacting to avoid conflict. This truly impacts project performance and success. One of the most important topics to discuss at the beginning of a project team is how you will all handle and address a) differing opinions and b) conflict.
  4. They feel overrun by mavericks on the team who don’t collaborate. As the project unfolds, be very aware of those who are not collaborating. It could be the superstar with loads of knowledge or the insecure wannabe who thinks knowledge is power. Great project managers don’t give these mavericks a free pass on teamwork.
  5. Respect and trust are low. Although these build over time, great project managers have everyone discussing this at the beginning. Suggestion: Have everyone write down what behaviors they expect and use to show respect. Discuss these and also what behaviors would create mistrust. This is time well spent for it breeds openness and productive collaboration. This is especially true for multi-cultural and global project teams. Showing respect and building trust are different in various cultures.
  6. They have old baggage that affects today’s behavior. I was working with a large team that resulted from a buyout. The people from the organization that was purchased felt resentful and disrespected that their company “lost out.” We addressed these feelings and the value of every project team member to get back on track!

  7. There is bullying going on that you haven’t addressed or don’t even know about. First and foremost, make sure your management style does not bully. Certainly project managers have the difficult role of keeping everyone on schedule. Some team members may feel the need to do this too. No matter who comes across like a bully, it damages teamwork and success. Instead, ask to understand before deciding what to say. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that matters. Be honest with care not blunt and boorish.
  8. Some who seem to work harder resent those who seem to work less. Discuss at the beginning of the project what effort is expected. In this digital world, some project managers and high driving team members expect everyone to be checking and responding to email from early morning to late at night. They label those who don’t as slackers. Best to discuss these expectations early on and agree to what is expected.
  9. You have a blame culture and people are pulling back to avoid failure. There is a big different between blame and accountability. Accountability is the productive practice of initiative, ownership, and follow-through. It’s a positive culture of learning. Everyone feels safe and motivated to say “That was my error and I am fixing it now.” In a blame culture, people are looking for fault and assigning it to others. People don’t learn from their mistakes they hide from the blame. Many people either confuse accountability and blame or don’t even know there is a different. Outline the difference for maximum project success.
  10. They have different personality types and don’t know how to adapt. This knowledge is critical at the beginning of a project. It prevents misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It maximizes collaboration and productivity. There are ways to quickly spot and adapt to personality types. Contact me for this QUICK SPOT & ADAPT™ workshop.

Addressing these project team issues will make a tremendous difference in project performance and success. Assuming that team members are adults and can just get along is a common mistake. Great project managers don’t make that mistake. They also know that task completion alone does not create success. People do. Lead them to work well together!

Getting Started Actions

  • Discuss and decide these important project teamwork issues especially at the beginning of a project and at major changes in direction.
  • Don’t let interaction troubles fester. They don’t disappear. They get worse and worse.
  • As a project manager, be very self-aware and continue to develop your emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman’s work is a great place to start if you are new to this.
  • Tap outside expertise to help you and the project team get started. It saves time and you learn how to do it for the next project you lead.

If you would like more information on my project team building workshops like QUICK SPOT & ADAPT™, Click Here
Contact me, Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ at 908.595.1515 USA or Email me.

©2015 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email [email protected] for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


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