6 Tips for Choosing Effective Project Team Members

A project is only as successful as the people behind it. While leaders often choose people for project teams simply based on their bandwidth or specialized knowledge, this is not necessarily the best way to go about it. There’s a number of specific skills leaders must look for, indicating who would serve as a great asset and who wouldn’t add much value to the team. Even those employees with the strongest skills typically require training to shine as a project team member. Simply assuming people already have all the necessary skills, or that they’ll quickly observe others and catch on, is not an effective approach. Companies who want the best project outcomes must be willing to invest in their people first. 6 Qualities of a Valuable Project Team Member Companies should strive to have project team members embody each of the following six characteristics: 1. Excellent Communicator Project team members work with individuals in all levels of the organization, coming from a variety of different backgrounds. As a result, these project management professionals must have the ability to effectively communicate with a number of different audiences, relying on information in a manner they can relate to. Poor communication can make or…

5 Collaboration Trends You Will See in Project Management During 2018

In the next year, we’re going to see fundamental shifts in collaboration. As networks and ecosystems replace organizational hierarchies, the traditional question “who do you work for?” has been replaced by “who do you work with?” Moreover, the continuous diffusion of innovative technologies throughout the working landscape has accelerated and governed this shift. The collaborative nature of project management also means that this has the utmost pertinence to our project teams. In the coming year, here are the 5 collaboration trends to be prepared for.    1. The power of teams will become even more prevalent When asked in an interview for Entrepreneur Dom Price, the head of R&D at Atlassian,  said, “the future of productivity is all about unleashing the potential of your teams.” According to him, “90 percent of organizations claim to be tackling issues so complex they need teams to solve them.” This doesn’t bode well for organizations in which collaboration has not become a priority. Price further stated that, “Diversity, distribution, time zones, cultural differences and hierarchical reporting lines all make teamwork hard. We all need to unlearn some old ways of working, and embrace diversity, inclusion and better collaboration to drive team productivity in this new…

10 Tips for Successful Teamwork

Involved in so many project teams you find it hard to cope? Ever feel out of the loop? Want to be part of a more effective team? These top tips are a great way to start building a successful team.   1. Communicate openly, honestly and respectfully There is nothing worse than being left in the lurch when it comes to team communication (or lack thereof). Whether it’s the next big strategic move or deciding on where you’re going for lunch, always communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully with other members of your team and they’ll do likewise. Check out this short video to see how you can help your team members communicate efficiently and stay connected to their work, and their colleagues using SharePoint!   2. Choose an effective leader There are a number of qualities needed in a leadership position, but effective leadership tops the list. Ensure your team leader is realistic, knowledgeable, and responsive then you’re on to a winner.   3. Mind your manners! There is nothing worse than a rude team member. Encourage a polite and understanding team environment and you’ll be riding the success express all the way home! Establish acceptable standards of behavior and deal with conflict as quickly as…

Working Effectively with Remote Teams Using SharePoint

One of the bigger shifts that have occurred in the modern workplace is the ability for team members to work remotely. With the internet, cloud storage, email, chat and video conferencing, and project management software, it has become incredibly easy for team members to “log on” and get work done from anywhere in the world. Remote working can be beneficial for employers and employees alike. Employers can reduce some overhead, minimize in-office distractions, and get access to a wider pool of talent.  For employees, they can reduce the cost of commuting to and from the office, freeing up time to pursue other passions.  Remote workers often report higher productivity and a better work-life balance. However, remote working is not without its challenges. The lack of in-person communication can lead to problems when it comes to team cohesion, shared vision, knowledge sharing, and general team engagement. If these issues persist for too long in remote teams, it creates barriers to open communication and collaboration, resulting in less-than-successful projects. So if you find yourself managing a remote team, how can you reduce these risks and help the team move work forward?  Here are three ways you can use SharePoint to improve collaboration…

How to Use a Project Team Charter to Boost Performance

I’m sure many of you are familiar with a project charter, a document defining the ‘raison d’etre’ of the project. The project charter outlines the proposed scope of work, requirements, timeline, resources, the definition of done, and project success factors. It’s a must-have document for any project, and is a resource you will likely consult several times over the project. Have you ever considered using a similar document to guide and inform your project team? Let’s take at why you should develop a project team charter and what to include.   Benefits of a Project Team Charter In their study of high-performance teams, Dr. Ruth Wageman and Dr. Richard Hackman identified three conditions essential to team dynamics: real team, compelling direction, and the right team. Real team refers to a sense of comradery and stability within the team. A compelling direction helps team members understand how their work contributes to organizational strategy, providing focus and momentum. Goals should be challenging with clear measures of success. Team effectiveness depends on getting the right people on the team. Individuals must possess relevant skills and experiences, and the ability to work on a team. It’s also important to combine different perspectives to avoid…

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…

Lessons in Leadership: John Wooden

Sport is a great place to turn when looking for examples of great leadership. You think of the legendary coaches who led their teams to tremendous success. To me, one person who stands out as a great source of inspiration and an example of a great leader, is the late John Wooden, former UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach. John Wooden is widely considered to be one of the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport. He was the Head Basketball Coach at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1948 – 1975. Towards the end of his tenure as a head basketball coach, he won ten national championships in the space of twelve years. His achievements on the court and building UCLA into a dominant program was an amazing feat in and of itself. But there was more to his leadership than just the trophies. There is a chapter in our Collaborative Project Management Handbook that starts with the following quote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States* Wooden captured that essence in his approach. One of the…

Do You Know How to Build a Stellar Project Team?

Successful project management relies on great teams to get the work done on time and as agreed. Unfortunately, with so much emphasis on planning, processes, and tools, it’s easy to overlook the people side of project management. Given the temporary nature of projects and a fast-paced business environment, project managers need the team to gel from Day 1 and work together in a collaborative and productive manner. This is rarely the case. Based on research by Dr. Bruce Tuckman, we know teams tend to journey through five stages of development before they can really perform. As the project manager, you need to understand these stages so you can guide and support your team as needed, regardless of project duration. Read on to learn more about team formation and best practices to help you build a stellar team.   What Defines a High-Performance Project Team? Before reviewing Tuckman’s work, let’s look some qualities of a high-performance team. Goal-orientated: High-performance project teams share a common goal. Each team member is clear on the goal, required tasks, and activities, and individual responsibilities to achieve the desired outcome. Success or failure is a team effort. Innovative: High-performance teams are often more proactive, creative, and, engaged.…

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…

Seven Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes Good leaders, effective leaders, understand and realize they need to be great communicators. In addition, they understand that the art of two-way communication is imperative in order to be effective. Not only does an efficient leader need to be good at speaking, they also have to be good at listening to feedback, ideas, opinions, and constructive criticism, responding accordingly to meet the desired outcome. A description from John Baldoni‘s publication Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders which resonates highly with me states; “leaders who become better communicators automatically enhance their value as a leader”. As we all know, the communication approach and method from any leader within an organization has a huge impact on the fellow people or employees, as it shapes the way in which we think, talk about and perform. “Leaders need to do more than just stand up and speak. They need to integrate communications into everything they do as leaders so that their communications, both oral and written, emerge from who they are as leaders and within the appropriate cultural context. Leaders who fail in communications will fail to achieve their organizational aims” –…

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…

9 Tips for Facilitating Better Project Meetings

As I sat down to put write this blog post, my mind ran to the poster on the right that one my colleagues shared with me a few years ago. I know it’s a bit facetious, but it does make you think about the purpose and function of meetings in our work day. I’m sure we’ve all been there many times.  We’ve agonized through a meeting we had no business attending.  Or the meeting that had no set agenda to drive the conversation and direct decisions. Or the meeting that attendees were not prepared for, which is both frustrating and counter-productive. However, in the right context with the right agenda and attendees, meetings are a very effective way to move work forward.  But to get the most benefit from a project meeting, they must be facilitated efficiently. 9 ways to facilitate better project meetings Only invite necessary attendees Start by keeping the list of attendees as small as possible and limited to those who absolutely need to be there.  There must be a better way to communicate with your teams if every update comes from an all-hands meeting.  Bigger groups are certainly useful for a brainstorm-type session where you need the creative juices to flow openly.  But generally speaking,…

4 Ways to Boost Team Performance

Picture this: the project is nearing completion, your stakeholders love your outputs, and the team is laser-focused on the deadlines. Suddenly, your star player starts to underperform. They stop contributing at meetings, are frequently late, and the quality of their work declines, forcing other team members to pick up the slack. The project is finished on time, but you are frustrated and unsure of what to do next. Should you confront the underperforming team member, report their behavior to HR, or ignore the situation, hoping it was a temporary glitch? Effective project managers need to maintain team dynamics by focusing on what is best for individual team members and the group. Addressing poor performance supports individual growth whilst also establishing acceptable behavior for the rest of the team. Read on to learn more about performance management, and four ways to boost performance using goals, check-ins, rewards, and feedback.   Managing Team Performance Performance management is a ‘process by which managers and employees work together to plan, monitor and review an employee’s work objectives and overall contribution to the organization’. The purpose of performance management is the continuous assessment of progress against agreed goals and metrics, with feedback and support provided…

A Team Built for Collaboration [Guest Post]

Over 25 years ago, I was approached by a loyal client who wanted my team to build a complex application whose goal was an ideal end state (or maybe a dream state to be more accurate) for their business model but how to achieve it (its solution)  was mostly undefined. The continued success of their business was threatened by technology and new competition and depended on the success of this very high risk project. I told my client that we would do the project if he would appoint one of his senior managers to our team. They should understand the business model requirements and be able to represent and make decisions for their business. I would want that manager to join our team as a full time member. I argued that I could not assure success unless the client provided that level of commitment.   The manager was appointed and the project was a success. That was an awesome learning experience for our team and began what would soon evolve into our Co-Manager Model. I have never taken a client project engagement since then without using this Model. Over the years the Model has matured and become an essential tool…

How to Improve Your Project Leadership with Coaching and Mentoring

Taking an active approach to the development of your leadership style is critical to collaborative project management. You need to cultivate a wide range of practices to use in different circumstances to nurture and guide the team in the right direction. Depending on the situation, you may opt to coach or mentor an individual to achieve the desired result. In this article, I will explore the differences between coaching and mentoring, and outlines best practice tips for these techniques. Before we begin, it’s important to understand when to use coaching and mentoring with your team.   Situational Leadership: Show, Coach, and Mentor As discussed in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, you can either show, coach, or mentor an individual towards an agreed outcome. In order to determine which path is best, you need to decide what is really happening. Here are four possible spectrums to consider. Capability Spectrum: Sometimes, team members are capable, competent, and able to do the job at hand. Other times, they are not capable or trained for the tasks ahead. Willingness Spectrum: There will be days when you will find team members energetic, enthusiastic and very willing. These are often followed by lazy, lethargic, and unproductive days. Time Pressure…

6 Ways to Improve Project Communication [Infographic]

Communication can make or break your project. Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that ineffective communication was the main contributor to project failure one-third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time. Check out our infographic for six handy tips to improve project communication.     If you want more tips and ideas to improve project communication within your team or organization, check out some of our most popular blog posts: How to Tackle Poor Project Communication: Understanding the roots of poor communication and the impact of this risk is critical to developing a communication plan that works. 6 Ways to Improve Team Motivation: Communication plays a vital role in motivating and engaging project teams. Managing Distributed Project Teams [Infographic]: Global Workplace Analytics estimates that around 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) work from home at least half the time. This means that many project managers now oversee distributed teams. However, communication and collaboration can become even more challenging when dealing with distributed teams. Dealing with Conflict in Project Teams: According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), managing conflict is one of the biggest challenges a project manager…

3 of the Worst Decisions Ever Made: A Failure Analysis

Decisions are one of the most unavoidable things in life; each and every one of us face them every single day. There is an old Dutch proverb that goes “he that has a choice has trouble”. Of course, decisions vary in importance and some are more difficult than others are but we can never truly anticipate the ultimate consequences. However, as Peter Drucker once said, “Whenever you see a successful business” you already know that “someone once made a courageous decision.” Replace the  word ‘business’ with ‘person’ or ‘project ’and the phrase still holds true: Whenever you see a successful person or project…’a courageous decision or decisions were made’. These decisions often go awry and lead to failure, but making good decisions comes from experience and experience comes from learning from your bad decisions and failures. Here are 3 of the worst decisions ever made, which all come with valuable lessons in decision making, so let’s do a ‘failure analysis’. Ross Perot turns down Microsoft Source When he described this move as being “one of the biggest business mistakes I’ve ever made”, Ross Perot was making something of an understatement. In 1979, Perot’s Electronic Data Systems was worth about $1…

7 Irish Sayings to Make You a Better Project Manager

On March 17th, communities around the world gather together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s most famous holiday.  As a nation, the Irish are well-known for having ‘the gift of the gab’,  a natural ability to speak in an entertaining and persuasive way. With that in mind, I have put together a list of seven Irish sayings to inspire you and your project team. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!   However long the day, the evening will come Meaning: We all struggle with projects that seem to go wrong at every turn. By its very definition, a project has a start and end date so just hang in there – the project will finish at some point.   You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind Meaning: Procrastination is the enemy of a productive project team. Spending too long planning a project, worrying about risks, or delaying a task until the time is right means you will never get any work done.   Three best to have in plenty – sunshine, wisdom, and generosity Meaning: Whilst we cannot control the weather, maintaining a positive attitude and practicing generosity whenever possible can elevate your overall mood and outlook. This…

How to use Consensus Decision Making for Project Management

Recent research suggests that we make around 35,000 decisions every day, ranging from the mundane (what to have for breakfast) through to potentially life-altering situations (accepting the offer of a new role). Add individual experiences and biases, time constraints, pressure from various sources and many other variables to the mix, and it is little wonder that we suffer from decision fatigue! However, we cannot avoid making decisions, especially when delivering collaborative projects. Effective project management relies upon individuals and teams making informed decisions on a regular basis; which project should we start next and why? What are the requirements for this project? How should the team manage resources? How often will the team meet to discuss progress? Who is responsible for liaising with stakeholders? As a project manager, you also need to decide if you will involve your team in decision making, and if so, to what extent. Consensus decision making – the idea that each person will support the implementation of the decision, regardless of whether or not he/she agrees with the decision – is a collaborative approach that overcomes many of these challenges. In this post, I will outline the steps and skills required for consensus decision-making in project teams.…

BrightWork Launches the 2nd Edition of Their Collaborative Project Management Handbook

Today, BrightWork launched the second edition of their book, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook. In recent years there has been a shift away from the traditional managerial hierarchies to a much more collaborative approach to managing projects, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. With that in mind, BrightWork last year published the first edition of their Collaborative Project Management handbook to outline the processes, resources, and leadership skills required to manage projects collaboratively with a team. In this new edition, they have built on the practical guidance in the first book and introduced a three-step framework for implementing collaborative project management in any organization (Collaborate – Lead – Evolve). Speaking about the new edition, Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork and book author, explained, “Modern, effective project management is about collaborative project management. It’s people working together, enjoying the journey on the way to an agreed, better destination.” He added that “The handbook is intended as a practical resource for new or accidental project managers, team members, and experienced project managers who need to coach new managers.” What’s inside this expanded edition? This second edition expands on the first version of the handbook and adds: A new 3-step Collaborative Project Management Framework with suggested implementation steps An expanded section on leadership, with new chapters covering Personal Leadership and Situational Leadership.   Praise for…

How to Use Emotional Intelligence for Enhanced Team Collaboration

If you needed to improve your team’s overall productivity, what would you do? I imagine you may develop project templates; invest in some time-management training; create a collaborative project site; delegate work; help your team prioritize and communicate more efficiently, and so on. Each activity is certainly useful and worth undertaking. But what if these endeavors don’t pay off? Developing an emotionally intelligent team could provide the solution. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an individual’s ability to recognize their emotions and understand how these emotions impact on others. An emotionally intelligent team relates to the ability of a group to manage and harness emotions for positive outcomes. An emotionally intelligent team is not simply a combination of individual emotional intelligence and self-awareness, but rather, the result of active team development. Read on to learn more! Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence As noted by Daniel Goleman in his 1998 work, Working with Emotional Intelligence*, each of us only has part of the information and skills we need to do our jobs. We depend on the group mind – the collective experiences, skills, and knowledge within the team – to complete tasks, making collaboration essential to project and organizational success. Indeed, research indicates organizations…

How to Overcome Low Employee Engagement Levels

Attracting, retaining, and engaging employees is becoming an increasing challenge for organizations, which in turn, impacts on project delivery. Employee engagement is used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization’s approach to human resource management. An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. A disengaged worker is likely to be unenthusiastic about their job, finding little meaning or value in their role; they are also uninterested in improving the company’s reputation. Collins (2001) declared that the top performing companies prioritize getting the right people in the company before deciding vision, strategy, organization structure and even business tactics. However, the challenge for organizations is to keep employees at a high level of engagement throughout their tenure. This article outlines engagement challenges and success factors, including employee feedback.   Engagement Challenges Gallup’s 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace (2012) found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In other words, only one in eight workers, roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be…

How to Manage Difficult Conversations with Team Members

Conflict, personality clashes, and other challenges will arise in project teams for many reasons. This can lead to difficult conversations between you, the project manager, and individual team members. These conversations are daunting and unpleasant but often necessary to address the situation, protect team morale, and keep the project on track.  With a little practice and the right strategies, you can navigate difficult conversations to reach satisfactory outcomes. Developing an approach to such conversations is a key step towards project leadership and should be incorporated into your communication plan. In this article, I will outline some tips and ideas to help you prepare for and hold the conversation.   The need for difficult conversations Conflict drains employee resources and wastes time so it is important to know when and how to tackle the situation more directly. Such situations can include: Sudden declines in performance and productivity Inappropriate conduct toward team members or clients Personal problems Complaints from other team members against an individual Personality clashes.   Of course, the best way to address potential issues is to prevent conflict through regular communication and interaction with your team. Watch for warning signs such as lack of engagement in meetings, missed deadlines,…

Millennials: The Heart of Collaborative Project Management

What is collaborative project management? Can you not just identify the need, and then do it? Do we even need project management? Let’s break it down. If you’re in an organization and you want to do something new, strategic, exciting, challenging, difficult – it’s a project. A project is an opportunity to transform. It’s a mechanism to bring you from a starting place to a new interesting place and it’s an action you take to realize your potential and meet your goals. Sounds exciting and invigorating, right? Especially this time of year as we are preparing for, if not already breaking into, a successful 2017. If you want to innovate, succeed and grow – you should explore collaborative project management! Project management is moving away from traditional managerial hierarchies and processes into a collaborative approach which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. Why? Well, this is mainly due to the shift in personnel due to the growing numbers of millennials joining the workforce. People like myself who have graduated from college over the past 5 to 10+ years, who are looking to innovate, succeed, and grow. We want to make an impact, expect to work for a purpose, and we are willing and…

Situational Leadership: 3 Easy Ways to Adapt Your Approach

The journey to successful collaborative project leadership has so far included key leadership strategies for project managers and suggestions for positive team dynamics. Another important leadership technique is adapting to the current situation. There are several factors to help you understand the situation and decide what type of leadership is needed. Let’s look at four possible spectrums and three approaches to managing these situations. Four Situational Leadership Spectrums Capability Spectrum: Sometimes you will find the team members capable, competent, and able to do the job at hand. Other times, they are not capable or trained for the tasks ahead. Willingness Spectrum: There will be days when you will find team members energetic, enthusiastic and very willing. These are often followed by lazy, lethargic, and unproductive days. Time Pressure Spectrum: Project tasks are usually high priority or flexible. Environment Spectrum: Some projects live is a very stable and well-regulated environment whilst others occupy a manic, high growth, unstable environment, sometimes reaching crisis point.     Think of the spectrum as moving from positive behaviors on the right to negative behaviors on the left. Your goal is to move team members from the less desirable behaviors to positive outcomes, for example, training…

Boost Team Engagement in 3 Steps

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 /…

Dealing with Conflict in Project Teams

Conflict is an inevitable part of our personal and professional lives. Individual opinions, ideas, beliefs and personality clash for many, many reasons! Recent research shows that U.S. employees spend 2.1 hours per week involved with conflict, which amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days. In the same survey, 85% of respondents reported dealing with conflict on some level with a further 29% dealing with conflict almost constantly. These numbers are quite stark. According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), managing conflict is one of the biggest challenges a project manager faces. Ignoring conflict in project teams is not an option; it must be tackled head-on using the right processes and tools.   What is Conflict? Conflict results from incompatible goals or competition for scarce resources. Conflict relates to differences in values, attitudes, needs, expectations, perceptions, communication styles and personalities. There are a few ways to think about different types of conflicts: Interpersonal conflict refers to a conflict between two individuals. This frequently results from differences in personality and opinion. Intragroup conflict is a type of conflict that happens among individuals within a team. Intergroup conflict…

Managing Distributed Project Teams [Infographic]

The once common practice of teams working together in one location has been radically disrupted in recent years. Online collaboration tools, the desire for speed and agility, and the difficulties many companies face when recruiting top talent have contributed to growing numbers of distributed workers and teams. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that around 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) work from home at least half the time. This means that many project managers now oversee distributed teams. Working remotely makes sense for employer and employee alike. Employers can cast a wider net when recruiting; reduce overheads such as property rental; decrease absenteeism, and take advantage of time zones to meet production requirements. Remote employees also report high levels of satisfaction, increased productivity, self-sufficiency, and a better work-life balance. In fact, a poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home. However, distributed teams face several obstacles, including lack of cohesion; limited knowledge sharing; difficulty tracking completed work; time-zones; engagement and motivation, and cultural and language barriers. Lack of personal contact also makes it difficult to build trust, which in turn, can hamper communication and collaboration. Here are a…

8 Practical Ideas to Overcome Procrastination

Recently, we featured tips for motivating your team and developing a healthier attitude to achieve personal and professional goals. A recurring theme within these posts was the importance of just getting started, something we all struggle with from time to time. We are all procrastinators! Procrastination means putting off a task for a short or extended period of time, often in favor of doing something more enjoyable. A simple example is spending time online watching funny videos instead of starting a new project report.  An inevitable occurrence in any project, procrastination can lead to delayed tasks, low team morale, constant changes to project deadlines, poor quality deliverables and so on. As a project manager, you may assume that procrastination is easily overcome with a well-defined schedule, regular meetings and the odd pep talk to boost morale. If only! Procrastination is often driven by emotional factors, such as a fear of failure, and can have multiple, negative consequences for individual team members. If you want to get the best from your team, you need to develop effective strategies for dealing with procrastination. In this article, I will explore some of the reasons behind procrastination and outline anti-procrastination strategies for both project managers…

Sharpen Your Attitude to Life

On your project and in life, you have the cards you have for now. Maybe you dealt the cards to yourself or maybe someone else dealt them. What matters now is how you deal with the hand of cards you have. In this regard, your attitude really matters. On a project, as in life, we do not know for sure what is coming next. It is best if we ourselves and the people around us have a healthy attitude so we are able to deal with and navigate the natural ups and downs. If you wish to be a leader on a collaborative project – whether you are the project manager or not – it is important to exhibit a healthy attitude. A healthy attitude is not something that we easily attain. For most of us mere mortals, attitude is something we have to grow and sharpen from time to time, but this is very doable. Read on to learn more about the role of biology in attitudes and for some practical strategies to develop a positive, healthy attitude to life.   Take Your Own Drugs Recent scientific studies have advanced our understanding of the physiology of the brain and…

6 Ways to Improve Team Motivation

A project manager wears many hats: planner, negotiator, resource manager, delegator and accountant to name but a few. Project managers also need to tap into psychological theories and skills to understand and motivate their teams. Motivating your project team is not as simple as holding a meeting, setting tasks and hoping that everyone enthusiastically tackles the work. Understanding what motivation actually is and why it matters means that project managers must get to grips with managing people, not just processes.  Motivating project teams leads to increased collaboration, innovation, and productivity, all of which allow the team grow and succeed together.   What is Motivation?     I am sure you will agree with the idea that motivation is somewhat elusive! We all have those super-productive days when anything seems possible and days that feel like we are running through extremely sticky mud. Motivation is described as the ‘process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors’. Motivation causes us to act; it is the ‘why’ of behavior. We can only gauge someone’s level of motivation by what they do, for example, completing tasks on time or helping out a colleague suggests that a team member is motivated to complete the project.…

How to Tackle Poor Project Communication

Every day, we communicate in person, on the phone, by email, text or online. The human brain actually evolved to favor our social nature, meaning that we are hard-wired to communicate with others. Despite our natural predisposition to social interaction, many people are poor communicators. The professional consequences of ineffectual communication are manifold: conflict with colleagues; missed business opportunities; stalled career development; stress; low morale and so on. Poor communication is particularly damaging in the context of project management. Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that ineffective communication was the main contributor to project failure one-third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time. More worrying is the finding that 56% of budgets allocated to projects are at risk due to poor communication. Communication can make or break your project. Understanding the roots of poor communication and the impact of this risk is critical to developing a communication plan that works.   Reasons for Poor Communication We take it for granted: Communication often fails because we take it for granted. Project managers assume that communication takes place as project teams attend in-person and virtual meetings, use emails and IM,…

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 

Decision Making and Personality Traits

Personality traits play a much bigger role in decision making than you may think. Some people are, by their very nature, indecisive. They find it quite difficult to make most decisions. I often find these people very loyal to the decision when they do make it. I am sure you know people like this. Other people make decisions way too quickly without considering all the consequences. These people are more impulsive. How you primarily react to the world will affect your decision making process; this also makes your decision making process unique. There are many ways to describe how we react to the world, but one simple way is to say that we react from the head, heart or gut. Your personality will determine whether you approach decisions in a rational or emotional manner.     Is one of the above more naturally prevalent than the other in how you react to the world? If so, be aware of this when making decisions. A good decision is made with the balance of the three head, heart and gut or when the three are eventually in balance, as described in the holistic decision-making approach. Hard decisions are just hard. There is…

A Real Approach to Project Management [Infographic]

As we all know, in order to successfully manage a project, you need an approach. A process, mechanism, a ways and means of doing something – whatever you like to call it. For this post and my infographic below, I am going to go with approach! A very real yet simple approach to collaborative project management is based on the ideal approach shown below:   But as we know, we do not live in an ideal world! It is said no plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy, the same stands for project management – and we should probably identify the enemies! I have done just that in a previous post, with an infographic, and you can check it out here: 5 Enemies of Project Management    Because of these enemies, the resulting real approach to collaborative project management is then comprised of the following 5 stages:   At a high-level overview, there you have it: A Real Approach to Project Management! If you would like to read and learn more about each step and sub-step in the process, you can download the free Collaborative Project Management Handbook today!

Improve Your Delegation Skills for a Happy Team

Delegation is an effective way to manage a project collaboratively. Delegating signals confidence in your team, which in turn, harnesses their skills and capabilities.  A good project manager leads and empowers the team by trusting them to get the work done. Many managers under-delegate, simply refusing to share tasks. They buy into the management myth that managers should do everything themselves. Under-delegating leads to overworked managers, frustrated teams, and unsuccessful projects. Other managers over-delegate. They lose touch with the project whilst their team frantically tries to stay on top of the workload. Delegation offers several benefits to a project manager: Free up your own time to manage the project Leverage the skills of your team to deliver new ideas and better results Allow your team members to develop new skills and knowledge for future projects Balance the workload amongst the team.   Delegation is an important skill which project managers should cultivate.  With the right processes and knowledge, you can quickly improve your delegation skills, and lead a happy project team! We’ll walk you through seven tips to help you get started.       Pick a task that you can and should delegate. While you should take responsibility for hiring…

Build the Right Team for Project Success using Belbin

Resource Management is a critical step when initiating your project. You need to get the right budget, tools, people and additional relevant elements in place to complete the work. Building the project team is not just about skills and experiences. You need to make sure that the team is balanced and can work well together to avoid any conflicts. 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. Most people enjoy working in two or three of the roles; can manage one or two more, and will avoid the rest. These preferences also impact on their interactions with other team members.   The nine roles are briefly outlined below. Thinking Orientated Roles Plant: The Plant is a creative problem solver who often comes up with new approaches and directions. They can be a little absent minded and introverted. Monitor Evaluator: If you need logical, strategic and impartial input, be sure to include a Monitor Evaluator in the team.  Remember that…

Infographic: 7 Project Management Terms That You and Your Team Should Know

Communication is often described as the act of conveying information or meaning from one person to another. The act is based upon rules and signals that allow interpretation of this information as intended. Sounds easy? As we all know, communication is anything but straight-forward! Interpretation is influenced by so many factors; as a result, different people often take different meaning from the same conversation. As a project manager, you need to make sure that everyone on the project is using the same terms and definitions. Doing so will not only improve clarity around tasks and project items; it will also drive collaboration within the team.  Using the same terms and definitions will save time at meetings and avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings between team members. Here are seven common project terms that you and your team should be familiar with.  There are many more terms that you will encounter when completing projects. It is a good idea to check if your organization has a knowledge base or glossary database for further guidance. Feel free to print this graphic and share with your team!

4 Ways to Manage Distractions in an Open Office [Infographic]

We recently outlined physical and emotional factors that can drain your energy and impact upon your time-management. If you are struggling to stay on top of your schedule – key to achieving your goals – you should also consider if distractions in an open office space are reducing your productivity levels. More and more offices are open-plan spaces, designed to encourage collaboration, productivity and creativity. By removing physical barriers such as cubicles or individual offices, organisations want to create a sense of a group working towards common goals. Sounds great! However, open-plan offices can generate a number of challenges that actually undermine productivity and hinder projects. Your team is likely made up of individuals who carry out different types of work in their own style. Mixing your team together in a single space can reduce focus and creativity as individuals get caught up in each other’s work.  Increased noise levels and a perceived lack of privacy also impact on concentration, leading to distractions and disruptions for everyone. Take a look at our four suggestions to overcome these distractions for a more productive day.          

6 Collaborative Project Management Challenges

An increasing number of organizations are turning to collaborative project management to secure project success.  Changes in the business environment and workforce now mean that project teams are moving away from traditional rigid processes to engaging the talents and energy of the group. However, collaborative project management brings its own challenges. We have identified six areas that new project managers should be aware of. Challenge 1: More initiatives than ever are now delivered, or designed to be delivered, as collaborative projects across different offices, countries and companies in organizations around the world. Challenge 2: Project teams are staffed with intelligent team members from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines who expect to be involved in the decision making of a project. They are no longer interested in the old ‘command and control’ type of projects where they were allocated tasks, did them, and didn’t think as much about them or their greater success and impact on the project. Challenge 3: Many project teams are using a project site and / or shared directories, or both! Often, these sites are populated with just some, but not all of the project information. Ideally, the project site should have all of the…

Why Communication Is So Important for Project Success

I recently came across an article on the Harvard Business Review titled The Dirty Little Secret of Project Management. In the article, the authors describe an issue that they see in project management. Surprisingly to me, they find that many project managers don’t care about project schedule… It’s too hard to get it right anyway. There are too many “variables” beyond their control. The project will be finished when it’s finished. But that’s no way to run a project. Just because things can (and will) go wrong, it does not mean you should throw your hands in the air and say that’s the way it goes. As a project manager, you have agreed to a set of deliverables and parameters. The job of project management is to plan and re-plan to meet those agreed objectives.  So a good project manager should be aware of risks and issues facing the project and take mitigating actions along the way. But sometimes an issue will arise that will affect the outcome of the project in a major way, and you will have to come to the customer and stakeholders with this news. And the article points out, as has also been noted on this blog before, that…

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…

3 Projects that Failed Miserably

Believe it or not, projects fail…all the time. And not just small projects from small organizations, but large ones of huge significance. Some of the most powerful companies in the world have experienced project failure and lost billions of dollars as a result. Yes, BILLIONS! Imagine being that project manager?! Hopefully, you’ll never experience a career setback such as a multi-billion dollar failed project, but it is likely that you’ll incur one or two hiccups at some point along the way. To make you feel a little bit better about these bumps in the road, here are some of the biggest fails in project management history.   DON’T LET YOUR PROJECTS FAIL! GET STARTED WITH BRIGHTWORK PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES FOR SHAREPOINT   1. Target’s entry into Canada Who failed?  Target Corporation, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States, behind Walmart. A company that is worth roughly 72.62 billion US dollars [March 2016]. What did they attempt to do?  They attempted to enter the Canadian market. It made perfect sense at the time as many Canadians would cross the border and come down south to their United States neighbors to do their shopping. Coupled with the fact that the company was reaching maturity in the…

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.

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…

4 Ways to help with Project Document Management

Document management can be such a headache! Are your projects documents a bit all over the place? A version here, a copy there? Or perhaps two or more people are working on different versions of the same original but should really be collaborating together? There are so many ways that inadequate document management can impact the success rate of your project. Even if your project charter and plan are perfect (should such a thing exist!), getting the correct control on how you mange your project documents must happen in tandem. Your project team must be able to access the right and relevant documents and templates as soon as they need to, without interfering on others. I’ve picked out 4 Ways to Better Manage your Project Documents to help you get on top of your document management using BrightWork and SharePoint and keep the proper controls in place. 1. Bin the Hard Copies I heard an interesting fact lately. There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes in the world today! Regardless if it’s true or not, it’s a safe assumption to say that pretty much everyone has access to technology these days. It’s time now to give the printer a break…

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…