Managing Project Teams: Shortcuts to success

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The two resources that tell a team - any team - just how important their goals are to the organisation are time and talent. If team membership is simply layered on top of existing duties, if meetings are constantly delayed or cancelled because of other issues, if expertise cannot be made available by functional areas because the expertise is too busy working on other things, if briefing meetings with sponsors and leadership are difficult to schedule or keep getting changed, if team questions or concerns do not get quick review and response, then team goals aren't that important - regardless what is said.

The sponsor needs to be highly placed, actively engaged on a regular basis with the team, able to make things happen so the team can move forward to its goals, must have personal "skin" in the game, and has to have access to the very top leader on a routine basis. If those criteria are met, team performance is given a real chance to succeed - without it teams may be successful, but it will take longer and introduce a real chance for ineffectiveness and lack of enthusiasm.

Studies have shown that top two things people in their work want are, being recognised as a contributing member of a worthy enterprise, and recognition and reward for their accomplishments. A contributing member of a worthy enterprise. People want to identify with the enterprise. They want to know that what they do has value in the marketplace, and has value to the success of their organisation..

The organisation has to communicate that every position adds value - some may be more obvious than others, but the "we are all in this together" approach and philosophy of work leads to high performance. Recognition and rewards can come in many forms. Accomplishment on team projects needs to be publicised, and individual accomplishment within teams should lead to actions that make it clear that team participation and success lead to opportunities. One other thing about rewards and recognition - they can be lost in the helter-skelter of getting everything done.

Schedule regular review times - at least monthly, to determine who should be recognised and rewarded, and make it a very public ceremony. If you find you cannot name - quickly - people to reward, you really need to look at how the team is performing. Review the essentials and compare them to your own organisation, then change what you need to change to improve success - or to implement teams in your company.

Doing so will ensure that you are accessing the collective genius of your organisation - and that's like money in the bank - for everyone! The focus of his work is on helping organisations and their people increase their success in the hiring, developing and enhancing the performance of leaders and emerging leaders. Cox Consulting Group LLC was started in , and has worked with a wide range of organisations, managers and leaders - helping them define success, achieve success and make the ability to change a competitive advantage.

He can be reached at www. It will help you produce a project proposal that's difficult to ignore. This article describes the must do steps, in the correct order, for scheduling projects and levelling finite resources.

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Managing Project Teams: Shortcuts to success

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What are the 5 essentials for successful teams? While no team ever gets everything it wants, leaders can head off a lot of problems by taking the time to get the essential pieces in place from the start. Ensuring a supportive context is often difficult for teams that are geographically distributed and digitally dependent, because the resources available to members may vary a lot.

Consider the experience of Jim, who led a new product-development team at General Mills that focused on consumer goods for the Mexican market. While Jim was based in the United States, in Minnesota, some members of his team were part of a wholly owned subsidiary in Mexico. The team struggled to meet its deadlines, which caused friction. But when Jim had the opportunity to visit his Mexican team members, he realized how poor their IT was and how strapped they were for both capital and people—particularly in comparison with the headquarters staff.

Establishing the first three enabling conditions will pave the way for team success, as Hackman and his colleagues showed. The solution to both is developing a shared mindset among team members—something team leaders can do by fostering a common identity and common understanding. In the past teams typically consisted of a stable set of fairly homogeneous members who worked face-to-face and tended to have a similar mindset. This is a natural human response: Our brains use cognitive shortcuts to make sense of our increasingly complicated world, and one way to deal with the complexity of a 4-D team is to lump people into categories.

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This was the challenge facing Alec, the manager of an engineering team at ITT tasked with providing software solutions for high-end radio communications. His team was split between Texas and New Jersey, and the two groups viewed each other with skepticism and apprehension. Differing time zones, regional cultures, and even accents all reinforced their dissimilarities, and Alec struggled to keep all members up to speed on strategies, priorities, and roles.

The situation got so bad that during a team visit to a customer, members from the two offices even opted to stay in separate hotels. In an effort to unite the team, Alec took everyone out to dinner, only to find the two groups sitting at opposite ends of the table. Incomplete information is likewise more prevalent in 4-D teams.

Very often, certain team members have important information that others do not, because they are experts in specialized areas or because members are geographically dispersed, new, or both. After all, shared knowledge is the cornerstone of effective collaboration; it gives a group a frame of reference, allows the group to interpret situations and decisions correctly, helps people understand one another better, and greatly increases efficiency.

Digital dependence often impedes information exchange, however. When we walk into an in-person meeting, for example, we can immediately sense the individual and collective moods of the people in the room—information that we use consciously or not to tailor subsequent interactions. Having to rely on digital communication erodes the transmission of this crucial type of intelligence. Some effects of incomplete information came to light during a recent executive education session at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Japan. One of the U. The Americans left the office at a normal hour, had dinner with their families, and held calls in the comfort of their homes, while their Japanese colleagues stayed in the office, missed time with their families, and hoped calls ended before the last train home.

Fortunately, there are many ways team leaders can actively foster a shared identity and shared understanding and break down the barriers to cooperation and information exchange. Returning to Alec, the manager of the team whose subgroups booked separate hotels: While his dinner started with the Texas colleagues at one end of the table and the New Jersey colleagues at the other, by its close signs had emerged that the team was chipping away at its internal wall. He emphasized that both subteams contributed necessary skills and pointed out that they depended on each other for success.

To build more bridges, he brought the whole team together several more times over the next few months, creating shared experiences and common reference points and stories.

The Enabling Conditions

You can prime teams for success by focusing on the four fundamentals. Often this is done by reserving the first 10 minutes of teamwide meetings for open discussion. The idea is to provide an opportunity for members to converse about whatever aspects of work or daily life they choose, such as office politics or family or personal events.

This helps people develop a more complete picture of distant colleagues, their work, and their environment. By simply panning the camera around the room, they were able to show their remote colleagues their work environment—including things that were likely to distract or disrupt them, such as closely seated coworkers in an open-plan space or a nearby photocopier. Together the four enabling conditions form a recipe for building an effective team from scratch.

But even if you inherit an existing team, you can set the stage for its success by focusing on the four fundamentals. How will you know if your efforts are working? We have found that these criteria apply as well as ever and advise that leaders use them to calibrate their teams over time. The ideal approach combines regular light-touch monitoring for preventive maintenance and less frequent but deeper checks when problems arise. For ongoing monitoring, we recommend a simple and quick temperature check: Every few months, rate your team on each of the four enabling conditions and also on the three criteria of team effectiveness.

The results will show where your team is on track as well as where problems may be brewing. To see how your team is doing, evaluate it on the three classic criteria of team effectiveness. Then look at how well it meets the four conditions that drive the success of teams in a diverse, dispersed, digital, dynamic business. Underperformance on the criteria and weaknesses in the conditions are usually linked.

Understanding the connections between them can help your team identify ways to improve.

Shortcuts, poor planning are common pitfalls in ERP project management

This assessment draws on the seminal research of the organizational-behavior expert J. Richard Hackman. If you need a deeper diagnosis—perhaps in the face of poor performance or a crisis—block out an hour or more to conduct an intervention assessment. Carefully examine the links between the lowest-rated conditions and team effectiveness criteria; managers who do this usually discover clear relationships between them, which suggest a path forward.

You can conduct both the quick check and the deeper intervention on your own or assess overall alignment by having all team members assign ratings separately. For a team-based check, you should compare results across the group. For a team-based intervention, you can increase the impact by holding a full-scale workshop, where all the members get together to discuss and compare results. Not only does this give you more-complete data—shining a light on potential blind spots—but it also reveals differences among viewpoints and opens up areas for discussion. Teamwork has never been easy—but in recent years it has become much more complex.

And the trends that make it more difficult seem likely to continue, as teams become increasingly global, virtual, and project-driven. Taking a systematic approach to analyzing how well your team is set up to succeed—and identifying where improvements are needed—can make all the difference. Martine Haas is an associate professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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He researches, teaches, and consults on issues of collaboration, organizational design and new ways of working, and leadership. Leading teams. Martine Haas Mark Mortensen.

Top Tips On Managing Projects & Project Teams Effectively

Collaboration has become more complex, but success still depends on the fundamentals. View more from the June Issue Explore the Archive. Executive Summary Over the years, as teams have grown more diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic, collaboration has become more complex. Idea in Brief The Problem Teams are more diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic than ever before.

The Analysis Mixing new insights with a focus on the fundamentals of team effectiveness identified by organizational-behavior pioneer J. The Solution The right conditions are a compelling direction a strong structure a supportive context, and a shared mindset Weaknesses in these areas make teams vulnerable to problems.

On a scale of 1 worst to 5 best , rate your team on these criteria:.