7 Habits of Effective Project Teams

A key premise of our three-step framework for collaborative project management is team members are engaged in their work and are willing to contribute to the project in a meaningful way. Through such successful collaboration, team members should also be ready to lead themselves and others as work progresses, and seek continuous improvement. Whilst achieving this model takes some time, great teams are characterized by some common habits. Below are seven to look for when building your next project team.   7 Habits of Effective Project Teams 1. Goals   Well-defined goals that are measurable, challenging, clearly communicated to the team, and agreed by each member are paramount to success. To reach group consensus on the goal, host a workshop to discuss objectives, measures of success, and individual responsibilities. Use a collaborative project management site and team meetings to continually reinforce the importance of the goal and how the team is progressing towards your destination. In addition to setting a goal, commitment to your objective is also critical. This is a team, not a committee with individual priorities and agendas. You need everyone to collaborate on time to make progress. Help team members to identify both their own goals for…

A Quick Guide to Project Teams: Types and Benefits

For many, myself included, being part of a team and all that comes with it – collaboration, problem-solving, healthy conflict, help, learning, fun – influences how happy we are at work. As noted in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook and other studies, modern work is increasingly more team-based with up to 75% of an employee’s spent communicating with colleagues. Successful organizations invest in teams, putting the optimal mix of people together in the right environment and creating support structures to help them excel. In this article, I’m going to explore different types of teams, and the advantages and disadvantages of teamwork. In a follow-up article, I’ll take a look at the qualities and habits of effective teams.   What is a Team? A team is defined as ‘any group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to accomplish a purpose or a goal’. Shared responsibility for a common goal defines successful teams. Teams create a framework to help individuals easily work together, improving decision-making, problem-solving, and organizational agility. Generally, teams of five to seven people perform well; bigger teams should be divided into smaller sub-teams.   6 Benefits of Teamwork     The first principal of our three-step…

High Turnover? 8 Strategies for Employee Retention [Guest Post]

A high turnover rate is always an unwelcome sign, especially for project managers who rely on a committed team. The scouting and rehiring process costs precious money and time, resources that could be better used on completing company projects. Fortunately, there are ways to retain your workforce that don’t just rely on giving raises. Here are eight organic strategies that can improve your employee retention rate. 1. Focus on the Interview Process In the case of employee retention, the root of any potential problems lies within the job interview process. Regardless of how much you want an employee to stay, no amount of persuasion will change their mind if they’ve already decided to jump ship. The only solution is to hire the best of the bunch and then proceed to balance out your personal hiring goals with their professional aspirations within the company. 2. Offer Positive Feedback Employees thrive on feedback, both positive and critical. It’s easy to blow it out of proportion, however, and sometimes managers forget to say anything due to busy or stressful work days. According to a study posted on Harvard Business Review, the ideal proportion between positive and corrective feedback is 5.6 to 1. Let…

How to use Communication Styles to Drive Project Success

Understanding communication styles is pivotal to executing a successful project. As we have covered on the BrightWork blog before, ineffective communication is the primary cause of project failure 33% of the time and has a negative impact on project success more than 50% of the time according to research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The most useful skill to develop and use to combat this bane of project success is the ability to understand and adapt to different communication styles, while also appreciating the impact of your own style on a group dynamic. This article will delve into some established schools of thought around communication styles and help you apply them in the context of your project teams. I will begin with the four traditional styles of communication before looking at some more ‘new school’ approaches to communication. As Mark Murphy explained in Forbes, no one communication style is inherently better than another. Picking the wrong style for a particular audience, whether it’s one person or a thousand, shuts down listening and can spell trouble. Learning to build flexibility around your preferred style allows others to more successfully hear the important things you need to communicate. Below are…

3 Ways BrightWork Makes Task Management Easier in SharePoint

Most people on your team are working on more than one project at once.  With so many competing priorities, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of what needs to be done. Here’s a common scenario we hear from customers: It’s difficult to keep track of their assigned work and when it is due, especially across competing projects Team members struggle to contribute to projects and providing status updates is too time-consuming There is no objective way to highlight when they have an issue or have too much on their plate Project deliverables are not managed in a central library and version control is lost. Task Management Made Easy with BrightWork and SharePoint SharePoint is the perfect platform for team collaboration, with some robust task management capabilities.  BrightWork is designed to extend those capabilities to give team members a simple work management system in SharePoint. With BrightWork, all team members can: find their responsibilities easily carry out the some of the project work quickly report on progress right from the project site in SharePoint.   Find your work Project management templates from BrightWork give the team a virtual workspace to connect and collaborate on the project.  At any time, team members…

5 Project Leadership Lessons from the NFL

In the sporting world, it is often said you’re ‘only as good as your last game’, meaning you are defined by your results. No one remembers any of the inch perfect passes Russell Wilson threw in Super bowl 49; they remember the interception he threw on the goal line that cost his team the championship. ‘Worst play call in Super bowl history’ is the phrase that was doing the rounds that following Monday. ‘What were Pete Carroll and his staff thinking, passing instead of running?’ One decision in the heat of battle, and it cost them everything. An entire seasons work, undone. So what can a project manager learn from this? Are you only as good as your last project? The hard truth is that no one will care about your project, they’ll care about the result. This is one of the many lessons that project managers can take from sports. Read on for 5 project leadership lessons from the NFL. 1. How to Define Success “In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are”. – Arnold H. Glasow. Many projects fail as they are rudderless. Setting objectives, tracking responsibility, measuring success, –…

Build Your Project Team with The Four Cs [Video]

In order to create an atmosphere in which your project team will thrive, it is important to focus on the 4 Cs: Companions, Collaborative, Challenging and Can do attitude. Our video blog explains each idea in more detail.   Companions: The atmosphere should be friendly and enjoyable – no need for fear Collaborative: You should all be on the one team helping each other Challenging: Challenge each other – but respectfully and with the conflict required for innovation. Be comfortable asking and answering uncomfortable questions Can do attitude: There is no such thing as I/we cannot.   In addition to creating the right atmosphere for your team, you should decide on a team model, and build a team with the right balance of skills, experiences, and attitudes. One way to build your team is to use the Belbin team roles framework. The model identifies nine types of behaviors or team roles needed for successful teamwork. Using these roles as a guide, you can harness the full potential of each team member and develop high performing teams.     Image credit 

5 Ideas To Optimize New Employee Onboarding

As project resources are identified and gathered, you may decide to recruit new employees to deliver on the requirements. Integrating new team members is quite challenging. The change is often disruptive to the existing team and daunting for the new employee, particularly if their assigned project is already under-way when they commence work. One way to ensure a smooth start is to use an onboarding program to help new employees develop the relevant skills, knowledge, and behaviors. As a project manager, you need new team members to feel welcome and part of the team from Day 1 for two reasons. Firstly, organizations frequently struggle to recruit skilled employees who are a good cultural fit. You have to make a good impression and retain your team! Secondly, it is also important to consider the financial and time costs associated with recruiting new employees. There are many methods and tools to help successfully integrate new team members. Here are five ideas to optimize your employee onboarding process. Remember: onboarding is not just about the first day. Onboarding should take place over a number of months to ensure that employees are fully supported and engaged.     1. Pre-Start In addition to providing relevant paperwork, make sure…

PM Tip: 3 Ways to Work the Project [Video]

As a project team member, you are likely involved in many different projects. So many commitments, tasks and deadlines can become overwhelming very quickly! Watch our video for three steps to help you work each project in a more organized, systematic way. Think of these steps as your commitment to your project manager and team.   Find Work Use notifications systems such as My Work Reports to find your work so you know what you are committed to delivering for the project. Do Work Naturally enough, go do the work! In many cases, deliverables, for example, a proposal, can be created and updated in the collaborative project site. Update progress on Work Use the datasheets or forms in the collaborative site to record your progress on what is done or in progress. Remember to record any issues that need attention. Manage your commitments and enjoy each project with these three steps.   If you would like to learn more about many, many different areas of project management, why not check out the rest of our project management tips. The videos are packed with useful information that we are sure you’ll both enjoy and find applicable to any projects you may be working on!…

Project Communication: The Right Time, Right Way and Right People

In order for a project to be successful, all project stakeholders need to know what is happening at all times. From team members knowing their work and responsibilities, to senior management who need to know the overall status of all the projects, communicating project information clearly is crucial every step of the way. Without open, accurate and consistent project communication, it’s almost guaranteed your project will fail… or at least run into some major problems along the way. These days there are so many collaboration tools designed to facilitate proper project communication. But naturally enough, our favorite here at BrightWork is SharePoint! Here are 5 ways you can use SharePoint and BrightWork to communicate project information the right way, at the right time and to the right audience. Notify team members of responsibilities Planning is the first step on any project journey.  But once you map out the steps needed to reach your destination, you’ll need to let team members know the plan for success.  The more high quality and consistent communication you have with your team, the greater your chances for success.  Project team members are eager to contribute to the success of projects, so make sure they have the information to participate fully in the project. Some ways to communication these responsibilities…

4 Tips to Avoid This Common Project Management Trap

Organizations who are new to formal project management often fall into a trap.  They realize that project management is important and that they need to get something in place. Great, that’s step one. However, it can be tough to know exactly which processes they really need to deploy to get started.  And this is where they start to go astray. It seems like more often than not, organizations make the mistake of trying to implement a  fully-structured project management process on day one. But when you’re just starting out, this can be overwhelming to project teams.  It takes time to build up to that level of project management structure. In addition, you can have small projects and big projects.  Simple projects and complex projects. Teams that are trained in project management, and teams that are not. People who buy-in and people who resist change at all costs. To accommodate this reality, you can’t think of project management as “one-size-fits-all.” Instead, at BrightWork we like the idea of project management as a spectrum. The beauty of a spectrum like this one is that there is no one “correct” spot. Only the spot(s) that are appropriate for you and your team. With all the above in mind, here a four…

Proper Deployment Strategy Equals Collaborative Project Management

You know those movie scenes where you see the star either sitting pretty on a beach somewhere sipping a cocktail, or alternatively wandering through the streets of some town looking down and out, followed by a flashback explaining in detail how he or she got to that place? And did you notice that the flashback typically needs to go way back in time to explain the current state of things? Well, believe it or not there’s an analogy here to the deployment of project management processes and tools within organizations. When you survey the end state of various deployments, you’ll either be staring at a glowing example of project teams efficiently zipping through process steps with team members collaborating with one another, or a breakdown of process with team members going off in their own directions with not much team cohesiveness at all. And to figure out how they got to this place, the flashback stage you really need to go back to isn’t the more recent rollout stage of the deployment, but rather all the way back to the early strategy and design stages. It is there that the path for one end result or the other was actually paved.…

Is Project Management Exciting?

If you’re in an organization and you want to do something new, strategic, exciting, challenging, difficult – it’s a project. So a project is a way to transform, to bring an organization, to bring a group to a new place. A project is a way to realize ambitions. A project is a way to help people in some cases achieve their dreams. So a project is from here to a new place, to a better place, to an exciting place, to a different place. A project is a way to get to where you want to go to. A really good project would be enjoyable because of the destination you want to reach and the journey that you’re taking. So it should be “I really want to get there. And it’s important to me. Or it’s important to my group, or my team, or my organization, but I’m enjoying the journey.” Proper project management, exciting project management is both an enjoyable journey and a fabulous destination.

Evolve Project Management with Easy to Configure Templates

One of the most common challenges when rolling out a new tool is resistance to change.  A new tool is not always viewed by user as a productivity aid, but rather just some extra admin they have to do. As the project management champion in your organization, you know that introducing project management best practices and processes and fine-tuning others will result in increased efficiencies and greater project success.  However, I bet it’s difficult to convince the people involved in projects to accept any kind of initial change, and even more difficult rolling out incremental changes to project management processes and practices. In this short playlist from our Extended Demo series, you will learn how the template-based approach to project management on SharePoint in BrightWork makes it easier to deploy and evolve project management processes in your organization by allowing you to: Configure templates to suit local usage Manage templates and process updates to projects Integrate project data with other systems

Creating a Culture of Collaboration on Your Project Team

A common challenge with project management in many organizations is that team members simply aren’t formally trained in the discipline.  As a result, there can sometimes be a project skills deficit among project team members. On top of that, these team members don’t really have any easy way of identifying who in the organization is the expert in the area with which they need help to deliver on their end of the project.  A lot of the time, they have no support structure, no templates and guidance, and central knowledge base or place they can go to for quick solutions, tips or self-training. When you use a tool like BrightWork that is built on SharePoint, team members can leverage the robust collaborative capabilities of SharePoint – including document management, social, search, and knowledge management – to get the help they need with their project work. The SharePoint list and library model makes it easy to create knowledge libraries to store training documents and capture best practices. And SharePoint Search ties it all together and makes it easy for team members to find what they need. These repositories of knowledge and lessons-learned helps team members to deliver on their priorities. Check out the playlist below…

Repetition (REP) is the Key to Mastery

One of the things we found at BrightWork is that people, they fall into this trap of maybe doing a little bit and having great success and maybe stopping and starting. So we coined the phrase “REP”. REP is a play on the word repetition. And we all know that when we repeat something often enough, we tend to get good at it. Now we have to repeat it intelligently, so we can’t repeat it the exact same way every time. We have to make adjustments. It’s like riding a bike. If you ride a bike for weeks and months, you get good at riding a bike. Repetition is an important aspect of mastery. The people we work with at BrightWork, they want to be masters of collaborative project management. They want to be masters of their own destiny. They want to be good at it. They just want to be great. And repetition is part of the key. So the REP in BrightWork terms: the R stands for research, the E execute, and the P is post-mortem. So this short video explains REP in BrightWork terms and gives you a practical approach to making change and becoming a master…

Collaborate Easily with a Team-Focused Project Site

One of the main challenges that project team members encounter is that they find it hard to know what is going on and contribute to projects in a meaningful way. They sometimes find it hard to understand what the point of the project is and what is expected of them.  For example: It’s often unclear on what the precise goals of the project are, who else is involved in the project and what their own role on the project is. There’s really no easy way to keep track of their assigned work and when it is due. Sometimes they struggle to find how the project is progressing or how close it is to being complete. So having some sort of collaborative project site, a virtual workspace for the team to come together, understand what and how the project is being managed, as well as how the project is progressing, can go a long in keeping the team on track and contributing to the project’s success. Using a tool like BrightWork, every project effectively gets its own collaborate website or page where team members (and other stakeholders) get their own dashboards. The site gives team members a single central place to go to discover the goals of…

SharePoint Vs Free Project Management Templates Vs BrightWork

A question I often get asked is, what’s the difference between vanilla SharePoint, the Free Project Management Templates and the full BrightWork? And which one is the right fit for me?Sometimes the answers are not too clear. That could be because the team here have done such a great job in making BrightWork and SharePoint such a seamless progression. To make things a bit easier, I’ve prepared a simple table to compare SharePoint, our Free Project Management Templates and BrightWork to help decide which direction you should take with managing projects on SharePoint. Comparison Chart Vanilla SharePoint Vanilla SharePoint is great if you want to introduce the idea of team collaboration to your organization, but may not be too sure on how people will react to a new process or tool; however, if you are using vanilla SharePoint to manage projects, you should really take a look at our Free Templates! Free Project Management Templates The free project management templates from BrightWork are a brilliant starting point for managing single projects in SharePoint The free project management templates are ideal if you want to get started managing individual projects. Especially if you want to increase collaboration but don’t necessarily have the time or skills to create the SharePoint templates internally.…

ABCDE: A Simple Approach for Effective Communication

Effective communication is a critical success factor for most careers whether it is leadership, sales, project management and my own specialist area – PMOs. Communication is always a very difficult skill to execute and is a major cause of failure in interviews and ongoing career progression. When you learn to communicate effectively, people will be more willing to help you and give you the resources that you need to succeed. ABCDE Communications Model Good communication skills allow you to sell what you have to offer in a way that makes others want to buy it, and that is critical when you are interviewing for a job. What are Good Communications? You know your audience. You know the communication outcome you want. You use the proper medium to communicate the message. You check whether the communication was effective and you achieved your desired outcome. Key Questions for Good Communications What do we expect your target audience to know or to be able to do as a result of your communications programme? How well are you communicating the messages? How do you know? How do you use the feedback from your communications to improve? Do the improvements you make to your communications work? The Benefits…

Wait, let me check…

Every time I think about how life must have been 150-200 years ago, before electricity, and therefore the power to do things we now take for granted, like moving water through a hose with a bit of “kick” on it, I am amazed at what got accomplished through sheer willpower and teamwork. And for my money, nothing says old-fashioned teamwork like the ‘bucket brigade.’   For any of you not familiar with the term, here’s what Wikipedia says, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucket_brigade . Essentially, it’s a long line of humans who literally pass a bucket full of water from wherever the water source is to a fire. The last person in line, closest to the fire, tosses the bucket on the fire. This goes on, one bucket at a time, until the fire is out. And clearly, this must have worked at least occasionally, or people would have stopped doing it. I imagine that, among the many challenges of accomplishing this effectively, one of the hardest parts is that each member of the brigade has to quickly and flawlessly take the bucket from the person “upstream” and get it into the hands of the person “downstream” while not spilling any water.   If the bucket…

5 Ideas to Make your Team Members feel like Rock stars!

As a project manager, we often get bogged down with the big picture – getting a successful project delivered on time, within scope and budget. But this can often be at the expense of the team members morale. Sometimes we need to stop and think and make our team members feel like rock stars of the project! By boosting morale this, in turn, should help with the success of the project. Here are some ideas that could help: An Exciting Project There’s nothing better than an exciting new project. But you need to sell all projects as exciting and interesting! The tasks within should be interesting and also marked towards the right people. Some people are complacent and while there is nothing wrong with that, those that show initiative and drive should be given the opportunity to work on those types of tasks. Perhaps during the initiate and planning stages, have your more energetic team members involved and ask what activities from the plan they would love to be involved in and where you feel they have the skills. They also might be able to highlight some risks and issues at these early stages as well. And for those that aren’t…