An important step towards project leadership is team management. The importance of leading and supporting your team becomes even clearer when we consider recent studies and surveys showing that large percentages of the workforce are not properly engaged with their company. If you are interested in these surveys, a good place to start your research is at www.gallup.com. This lack of employee engagement is a sad reality. I really believe that the vast majority of people would prefer to be fully engaged and enjoy work. We spend so much time at work – who wouldn’t want to be happier and more engaged at work?
Here are three ways to engage and lead your project team.*
1. Decide on a Team Model
The selected model should be consistent with collaborative project management. There are many options to consider depending on your organizational structure and the project. One approach is the formation of project teams within or between departments as needed. Each project has a designated leader. At some point, individuals will lead projects and serve as team members on other projects.
2. Build Team Dynamics – the 4 Cs
Create positive team dynamics using the 4 Cs:
- Collegiate / Companions
- Friendly, enjoyable and no need for fear
- On the one team and in the one project/company helping each other
- To each other but respectfully with the Conflict necessary for innovation.
- Comfortable asking and answering uncomfortable questions.
- Can do attitude
- No such thing as I/we can’t.
In addition to creating the right dynamic for your team, you should also build a team with the right balance of skills, experiences and attitudes. One way to do this is to use the Belbin team roles framework. The model identifies nine types of behaviors or team roles needed for successful teamwork.
3. Desired Team Member Practices
In collaborative project management, everyone takes on the role of leader and the role of team member. What are the desired practices for the role of a team member? The below list offers some suggestions to discuss with your team.
- Integrity is key for all team members. Always treat others as you wish to be treated.
- Assume personal responsibility for the success of your deliverables.
- Team effort is the key to greater success. Offer help to the team. Be open and expect new tasks outside your own deliverables.
- Mistakes happen. Admit and get over them, but learn from them always.
- Expect issues from time to time. Deal with them quickly. Do not let them fester. When the issue is sorted, leave it behind.
- Respect deadlines and sign-off dates for deliverables.
- This is a fast paced environment at times with multiple simultaneous commitments so you will need to periodically invest in time management practices to be able to deliver on your commitments.
- You need the courage as a team member to do the right thing.
- Take the responsibility given to you and contribute to the team.
- Challenge the direction and then accept the team direction.
- Participate in the speed of the group.
As a project manager, you need to develop a leadership style that encourages higher levels of engagement by all team members. If you and your team aspire to collaborative project management, higher levels of engagement are vital, not optional.
*A good leader should never claim the work of others as his or hers, so I better fess up! In 2009, the local university MBA class had a leadership lecture from the then Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Dermot Earley. I was invited as a local business person, as we recruit from the business studies department of this university. I was also invited as I am ex-Army. The lecture was one of the best I have ever heard on leadership. It was practical and extremely sincere. You just knew that this man lived these principles. Sadly, this great Army General and giant of a man died in 2010 while still serving as Chief of Staff. A number of the desired leadership practices cited above come from that lecture and my prior army officer training.
This article is an excerpt from the next edition of “Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook”. We would love your thoughts and feedback on this article and the handbook. Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.