Leadership and Teamworking
People deliver projects, not processes. Successful project management (or is it leadership) requires a combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. Achieving the right level of consistency of “methods” on projects through common processes is important. However, if a project environment does not demonstrate true ‘team spirit’, especially in challenging times, it is highly likely that you will be able to measure the impact on the delivery performance of the project in cost and schedule terms.
A healthy project environment is created where there is a combination of effective leadership, together with competence in areas often described as ‘soft skills’.
The ideal project environment is where Team members are:
- invited to contribute towards key decisions
- party to the ‘bigger-picture’, and don’t operate in isolation
- informed why decisions are made, not just what they are
- encouraged to highlight risks and issues
- supportive of each other
and, there is:
- respect for each other and the team leader
- openness and honesty despite the level of challenge or issue.
Great project managers understand project management concepts and techniques, but perhaps more importantly, provide effective leadership.
Leadership is very hard to define, but easy to notice when it is lacking. Effective leadership involves:
- open communication
- effective delegation
- decision making
- being consistent
- being prepared to deal with issues and confronting situations
- involving the team in decisions while being prepared to make tough decisions
- being able to admit you are wrong if necessary
- leaving your ego at home!
Much is written about team building, which has an important role where relationships are not mature, as is typical at the start of projects.
There is also the related topic of team working. Team building has its place at certain stages, to develop relationships, but team working applies to the practices and behaviours in evidence on a day-to-day basis, throughout the life of the project.
A decade ago a famous piece of research coined the expression ‘high performance teams’. While this may be the pinnacle, most businesses should aim for minimum standards of team working to be achieved on all key projects. Where there are indications of issues with team working, it should be recognised as a major risk to a project. This applies to all key relationships, including those with external customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
One of the most important responsibilities of the project manger is to align and manage the expectations of all stakeholders, and to develop a common set of objectives for the project. Understanding and working towards a common and clear set of objectives is the single most important attribute of positive team oriented behaviour. Therefore, this must be one of the most important aims and responsibilities of a project manager.
Most people respond positively to being kept informed, while old fashioned management wisdom might say ‘managers manage’ and others ‘do’. If this happens, it can result in communication vacuums, which is the opposite of best project management practice.
Communication is the lifeblood of projects. Open communication must be encouraged and managed. To avoid information overload, there are practices that can be employed, aligned to effective team based organisation, that encourage effective communication.
Good personal communication skills are also vital if teams are to make effective and efficient progress. There are many forms of communication, but the most important, and sometimes the least practiced, is listening . Lack of care and attention to communication skills and processes can cause major risks and issues on projects the results of which are often measured in delays and additional work.
Executive Presentation: Benefits Effective Team working
PMIS has an Executive level Overview of: Benefits of Effective Team working and would be happy to work with you to deliver this to your organisation.
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