Manual The Power of Teams: Communication and Deliverables (The Power of Done Book 1)

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Contents

  1. Introduction to the Project Management Knowledge Areas
  2. Built for every team of every size
  3. 2. Project Management Overview
  4. Project Management, Help Desk Software, Spaces and Chat | Teamwork

There are many factors that need to be understood within your project environment Figure 2. Then we move to the physical environment; here we think about time zones. Of all the factors, the physical ones are the easiest to understand, and it is the cultural and international factors that are often misunderstood or ignored. How we deal with clients, customers, or project members from other countries can be critical to the success of the project. For example, the culture of the United States values accomplishments and individualism. Americans tend to be informal and call each other by first names, even if having just met.

Europeans tend to be more formal, using surnames instead of first names in a business setting, even if they know each other well. In addition, their communication style is more formal than in the United States, and while they tend to value individualism, they also value history, hierarchy, and loyalty.

The Japanese, on the other hand, tend to communicate indirectly and consider themselves part of a group, not as individuals. The Japanese value hard work and success, as most of us do. How a product is received can be very dependent on the international cultural differences.

Introduction to the Project Management Knowledge Areas

Western companies planned their telephone systems to work the same way in Asia as they did in Europe and the United States. But the protocol of conversation was different. Call-waiting, a popular feature in the West, is considered impolite in some parts of Asia. This cultural blunder could have been avoided had the team captured the project environment requirements and involved the customer. It is often the simplest things that can cause trouble since, unsurprisingly, in different countries, people do things differently.

One of the most notorious examples of this is also one of the most simple: date formats. Of course it depends where you come from; in North America it is February 8th while in Europe and much of the rest of the world it is 2nd August. Clearly, when schedules and deadlines are being defined it is important that everyone is clear on the format used. The diversity of practices and cultures and its impact on products in general and on software in particular goes well beyond the date issue. You may be managing a project to create a new website for a company that sells products worldwide.

It is obvious that you need to ensure the translation is correct; however, the presentation layer will have its own set of requirements for different cultures. The left side of a website may be the first focus of attention for a Canadian; the right side would be the initial focus for anyone from the Middle East, as both Arabic and Hebrew are written from right to left.

Colors also have different meanings in different cultures. White, which is a sign of purity in North America e. Table 2. Adapted from P. Russo and S. Boor, How Fluent is Your Interface? Project managers in multicultural projects must appreciate the culture dimensions and try to learn relevant customs, courtesies, and business protocols before taking responsibility for managing an international project. There is more to project management than just getting the work done. In some respects, managing a project is similar to running a business: there are risk and rewards, finance and accounting activities, human resource issues, time management, stress management, and a purpose for the project to exist.

General management skills are needed in every project. Here were talking about your interpersonal skills as shown in Figure 2. Therefore they must be good communicators, promoting clear, unambiguous exchange of information. As a project manager, it is your job to keep a number of people well informed. It is essential that your project staff know what is expected of them: what they have to do, when they have to do it, and what budget and time constraints and quality specifications they are working toward. If you do not know what the project staff is or often is not doing, then you will be unable to monitor project progress.

Finally, if you are uncertain of what the customer expects of you, then the project will not even get off the ground. For example, will information be distributed via mail or email, is there a shared website, or are face-to-face meetings required? Project management is about getting things done. Every organization is different in its policies, modes of operations, and underlying culture. There are political alliances, differing motivations, conflicting interests, and power struggles. A project manager must understand all of the unspoken influences at work within an organization.

Leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire individuals to work toward expected results. Leaders inspire vision and rally people around common goals. A good project manager can motivate and inspire the project team to see the vision and value of the project. The project manager as a leader can inspire the project team to find a solution to overcome perceived obstacles to get the work done. Motivation helps people work more efficiently and produce better results.

Motivating the team is accomplished by using a variety of team-building techniques and exercises. Team building is simply getting a diverse group of people to work together in the most efficient and effective manner possible. This may involve management events as well as individual actions designed to improve team performance. Recognition and rewards are an important part of team motivations. They are formal ways of recognizing and promoting desirable behavior and are most effective when carried out by the management team and the project manager.

Consider individual preferences and cultural differences when using rewards and recognition. Project managers must negotiate for the good of the project. In any project, the project manager, the project sponsor, and the project team will have to negotiate with stakeholders, vendors, and customers to reach a level of agreement acceptable to all parties involved in the negotiation process. Problem solving is the ability to understand the heart of a problem, look for a viable solution, and then make a decision to implement that solution.

Problem definition is the ability to understand the cause and effect of the problem; this centers on root-cause analysis. If a project manager treats only the symptoms of a problem rather than its cause, the symptoms will perpetuate and continue through the project life. Even worse, treating a symptom may result in a greater problem. For example, increasing the ampere rating of a fuse in your car because the old one keeps blowing does not solve the problem of an electrical short that could result in a fire.

Root-cause analysis looks beyond the immediate symptoms to the cause of the symptoms, which then affords opportunities for solutions. Once the root of a problem has been identified, a decision must be made to effectively address the problem. Solutions can be presented from vendors, the project team, the project manager, or various stakeholders. A viable solution focuses on more than just the problem; it looks at the cause and effect of the solution itself. In addition, a timely decision is needed or the window of opportunity may pass and then a new decision will be needed to address the problem.

As in most cases, the worst thing you can do is nothing. All of these interpersonal skills will be used in all areas of project management. Skip to content Increase Font Size. Previous: 1. Project Management: Past and Present. Next: 3. The Project Life Cycle Phases. License 2.

Built for every team of every size

Share This Book. For starters, it helps to feel good about being on a team in the first place. According to Katzenbach and Smith, most people either undervalue the power of teams or actually dislike them. But research shows that highly functioning teams are far more than the sum of their individual members:. First, they bring together complementary skills and experiences that, by definition, exceed those of any individual on the team.

This broader mix of skills and know-how enables teams to respond to multifaceted challenges like innovation, quality, and customer service. Second, in jointly developing clear goals and approaches, teams establish communications that support real-time problem solving and initiative. Teams are flexible and responsive to changing event and demands…. Third, teams provide a unique social dimension that enhances the economic and administrative aspects of work….

Both the meaning of work and the effort brought to bear upon it deepen, until team performance eventually becomes its own reward. Finally, teams have more fun. This is not a trivial point because the kind of fun they have is integral to their performance. Viewed through the lens of living order, perhaps the most important thing about teams is the way they, by their very nature, encourage members to adapt to changing circumstances:.

Because of their collective commitment, teams are not as threatened by change as are individuals left to fend for themselves. And, because of their flexibility and willingness to enlarge their solution space, teams offer people more room for growth and change than do groups with more narrowly defined task assignments associated with hierarchical job assignments. Joining a team—that is, fully committing yourself to a group of people with a shared goal—is always a risk. But risk can bring rewards for those willing to take a chance. Jon R. Smith, explain that, in their studies of scores of teams, they discovered.

Of the risks required, the most formidable involve building the trust and interdependence necessary to move from individual accountability to mutual accountability. For most of us such trust and interdependence do not come easily; it must be earned and demonstrated repeatedly if it is to change behavior. Katzenbach and Smith Because teams often need to come together in a hurry, building trust quickly among members is essential. So as a team leader, you need to focus on establishing trusting relationships at the outset. As Laufer et al. Chuck Athas was one such team member.

Officially listed as the project scheduler and planner, Chuck was eager to help Frank once the schedule was completed and needed less attention. Probably something. His can-do attitude is the antidote to the not-my-job thinking that can sometimes cause team cohesiveness and project completion to falter. His adherence to the project goals over his own goals made him an ideal team member Laufer, et al. Nothing erodes trust like a broken promise.

We all know this. As Michelle Gielan explains in a blog post for Psychology Today :. We have chosen to put something else ahead of our commitment. Even when we break small promises, others learn that they cannot count on us. Tiny fissures develop in our relationships marked by broken promises. Unfortunately, in fast-moving, highly technical projects, breaking ordinary, everyday promises is inevitable.

On a big project, you might have reliable promises logged at any one time. Record a success rate in the log for each person. If you craft the promises correctly, this is an extremely helpful metric on team functionality and performance. In Lean terminology, a reliable promise is an official commitment to complete a task by an agreed-upon time. In order to make a reliable promise, you need to have:. Not every situation calls for an official, reliable promise. As Hal Macomber explains in a white paper for Lean Project Consulting, you should save reliable promises for tasks that must be completed so that other work can proceed.

Finally, remember that people tend to feel a more positive sense of commitment to a promise if they understand that they have the freedom to say no:. Make it your practice to remove fear from promising conversations. The practice of reliable promising was developed as a way to keep Lean projects unfolding efficiently in unpredictable environments. Ultimately, reliable promises are an expression of respect for people, which, as discussed in Lesson 1, is one of the six main principles of Lean.

They encourage collaboration and help build relationships among team members. In Agile, the commitments made in every Scrum are another version of reliable promises. And the sincere commitment offered by a reliable promise can be useful in any kind of project. Here are some examples of situations in which reliable promising could be effective:. As a manager of technical projects, you might be inclined to think that, as long as you have the technical details under control, you have the whole project under control.

High emotional intelligence is the hallmark of a mature, responsible, trustworthy person.

An article in the Financial Post discusses numerous studies that have tied high emotional intelligence to success at work:. Numerous other studies have shown that high emotional intelligence boosts career success. For example, the U. Air Force found that the most successful recruiters scored significantly higher on the emotional intelligence competencies of empathy and self-awareness.

An analysis of more than top level executives from 15 global companies showed that six emotional competencies distinguished the stars from the average. Research by the Center for Creative Leadership has found the primary cause of executive derailment involves deficits in emotional competence. Williams In all areas of life, he argues, low emotional intelligence increases the chance that you will make decisions that you think are rational, but that are in fact irrational, because they are based on unrecognized emotion. And nothing erodes trust like a leader who imposes irrational decisions on a team.

Some people are born with high emotional intelligence. Others can cultivate it by developing qualities and skills associated with emotional intelligence, such as self-awareness, self-control, self-motivation, and relationship skills. Treating others the way they want to want to be treated—not how you want to be treated—is a sign of a mature leader, and something that is only possible for people who have cultivated the emotional intelligence required to understand what other people want.

You might have had experience with an overly negative project manager who derailed a project with constant predictions of doom and gloom. But in fact, the more common enemy of project success is too much positivity, in which natural human optimism blinds team members to reality. The optimist clings to the belief that everything will turn out fine, even when the facts indicate otherwise, and so fails to prepare for reality.

In the planning phase, an overly optimistic project manager can make it difficult for team members to voice their realistic concerns. This widely used technique encourages stakeholders to look to the future and analyze the completed project as if it were already known to be a total failure:. A premortem is the imaginary converse of an autopsy; the hindsight this intelligence assessment offers is prospective. In sum, tasking a team to imagine that its plan has already been implemented and failed miserably increases the ability of its members to correctly identify reasons for negative future outcomes.

This is because taking a team out of the context of defending its plan and shielding it from flaws opens new perspectives from which the team can actively search for faults. Despite its original high level of confidence, a team can then candidly identify multiple explanations for failure, possibilities that were not mentioned let alone considered when the team initially proposed then developed the plan. Serrat In his book Mastering the Leadership Role in Project Management , Alexander Laufer explains the vital importance of team communication:. Because a project functions as an ad hoc temporary and evolving organization, composed of people affiliated with different organizations, communication serves as the glue that binds together all parts of the organization.


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When the project suffers from high uncertainty, the role played by project communication is even more crucial. Unfortunately, many people think they are better communicators than they actually are.


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Sometimes a person will excel at one form of communication but fail at others. For instance, someone might be great at small talk before a meeting but continually confuse co-workers with poorly written emails. This is one area where getting feedback from your co-workers can be especially helpful. Another option is taking a class, or at the very least, consulting the numerous online guides to developing effective communication skills.

To help you get started, here are a few quick resources for improving vital communication skills:. Telling stories is an especially helpful way to share experiences with your team. Master storytellers seem to do it effortlessly, but in fact they usually shape their stories around the same basic template. Holly Walter Kerby, executive director of Fusion Science Theater, and a long-time science educator, describes the essential story elements as follows:.

Keep in mind that in some high-stakes situations, the last thing you want is more tension. In that case, you want the opposite of a story—a straightforward recitation of the facts. Draining the drama from a situation helps everyone stay focused on the facts, keeping resentment and other negative emotions to a minimum Manning , I need to Master Critical Conversations. Furthermore, the structure of face-to-face interaction offers a valuable opportunity for interruption, repair, feedback, and learning that is virtually instantaneous.

By seeing how others are responding to a verbal message even before it is complete, the speaker can alter it midstream in order to clarify it. The immediate feedback in face-to-face communication allows understanding to be checked, and interpretation to be corrected. Additionally, face-to-face communication captures the full spectrum of human interaction, allowing multiple cues to be observed simultaneously. But as much as possible, project managers should push for using technology that allows a fuller communication environment—one in which interactions are not just isolated to text.

Nardi and Steve Whittaker. As a team leader, you can use the same line of thinking to better understand your team members.

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2. Project Management Overview

Start by asking this question: Why do your team members do what they do? Most people work because they have to, of course. But their contributions to a team are motivated by issues that go way beyond the economic pressures of holding onto a job. In their study of 12, daily journal entries from team members in a variety of organizations and industries, they found that a sense of accomplishment does more to encourage teamwork, on-the-job happiness, and creativity than anything else.

Project Management, Help Desk Software, Spaces and Chat | Teamwork

According to Amabile and Kramer, the best managers focus on facilitating progress by removing roadblocks and freeing people up to focus on work that matters:. When you do what it takes to facilitate progress in work people care about, managing them—and managing the organization—becomes much more straightforward. As you might expect, setbacks on a project can have the opposite effect, draining ambition and creativity from a team that, only days before, was charging full steam ahead toward its goal.

Even completing a small task can generate a sense of forward momentum that can propel a team toward larger achievements. Through years of practical experience as an executive, consultant, project engineer, and project manager, John Nelson has gained a finely honed understanding of how to manage teams. According to Nelson, the following are essential for motivators for any team:. Nelson also recommends avoiding the following demotivators, which can sap the life out of any team:.

In his book, Drive , Daniel Pink digs into the question of how to have a meaningful, purpose-driven work life. For simple, straight-forward tasks, a large reward does indeed encourage better performance. But for anything involving conceptual, creative thinking, rewards have the opposite effect: the higher the reward, the poorer the performance.

This has been replicated time and time again by researchers in the fields of psychology, economics, and sociology. It turns out the best way to nurture engaged team members is to create an environment that allows for autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose Pink One form of motivation—uncontrolled external influences—can have positive or negative effects. That had the effect of energizing people to jump in and help out, creating a nationwide sense of urgency.

One possible reason for this difference is that, on the mainland, people could take action on their own, arriving in Florida or Texas by boat or car. Those successes encouraged other people to join the effort, creating a snowball effect. But the geographic isolation of Puerto Rico, and the complete failure of the power grid, made it impossible for the average person to just show up and help out.

That, in turn, contributed to the overall sense of hopelessness. This suggests that small successes in the face of uncontrolled external influences can encourage people to band together and work even harder as a team. But when even small signs of success prove elusive, uncontrolled external influences can be overwhelming.

As a technical team leader, you can help inoculate your team against the frustration of external influences by making it clear that you expect the unexpected. Condition your team to be prepared for external influences at some point throughout the project. For example, let your team know if you suspect that your project could possibly be terminated in response to changes in the market. By being upfront about the possibilities, you help defuse the kind of worried whispering that can go on in the background, as team members seek information about the things they fear.

High performing teams develop a rhythm. Unfortunately, you might also experience the disequilibrium that results from a change in personnel. Endless books and articles have been written on the topic of change management, with a focus on helping people deal with new roles and personalities. Your Human Resources department probably has many resources to recommend. Really, the whole discipline comes down to, as you might expect with all forms of team management, good communication and sincere efforts to build trust among team members. Here are a few resources with practical tips on dealing with issues related to team transitions:.

Agile software development was founded as a way to help team members work together more efficiently and companionably. In fact, three of the twelve founding principles of the methodology focus on building better teams:. Sometimes that means moving problematic team members to new roles, where they can be more effective, or possibly adding a new team member who has the right personality to interact with the problematic team member. There is more to leading a self-organizing team than buying pizza and getting out of the way. Leaders influence teams in subtle and indirect ways. It is impossible for a leader to accurately predict how a team will respond to a change, whether that change is a different team composition, new standards of performance, a vicarious selection system, or so on.

Leaders do not have all the answers. What they do have is the ability to agitate teams and the organization itself toward becoming more agile. The rationale for putting together a team is to combine different people, personalities, and perspectives to solve a problem. Difference is the whole point.

Diverse teams are more effective than homogenous teams because they are better at processing information and using it to come up with new ideas. As individuals we can accomplish only so much. Our heads contain only so many neurons and axons. Collectively, we face no such constraint. We possess incredible capacity to think differently.

These differences can provide the seeds of innovation, progress, and understanding. Despite these widely documented advantages of diverse teams, people often approach a diverse team with trepidation. Indeed, bridging differences can be a challenge, especially if some team members feel threatened by ideas and perspectives that feel foreign to them. But diversity can result in conflict, even when everyone on the team only wants the best for others.

This is especially true on teams made up of people from different countries. Such teams are vulnerable to cultural misunderstandings that can transform minor differences of opinion into major conflicts. Cultural differences can also make it hard for team members to trust each other, because different cultures have different ways of demonstrating respect and trust. The first round of negotiations took place in Jacksonville, Mississippi, with the American hosts taking care stick to the agenda, so as to avoid wasting any time:.

At the end of the two days, the American team felt great about all they had accomplished. The discussions, they believed, were efficient and productive. The short lunches and tight scheduling signified respect for the time the Brazilians invested in preparing for the negotiations and traveling to an out-of-the-way location. The Brazilians, on the other hand, were less upbeat and felt the meetings had not gone as well as hoped.

As it turned out, the Brazilians felt that the efficient, organized American approach left them no time to get to know their potential new business partners. When they go unrecognized, cross-cultural misunderstandings like this can cause a host of ill-feelings.