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Are You the Problem on the Project Team? Part II

Part II: The Team Meeting

Read Part I to catch up on our story.

When we left off, the project manager had asked his team to respond to the following two questions:

  1. What is he doing effectively as the project team leader?
  2. What does he need to learn to do better to be more effective as the project team leader?

He requested their responses prior to the team meeting, and he would then come prepared to the team meeting with a plan to how he can better perform his role to help the team be successful.

Some more background for you. The team consisted of 12 individuals. All of whom had previous experience working on project teams and 4 of which have taken a leadership role on past projects. Their combined experience was 20+ years. The project manager had extensive experience also working with project teams – both as a team leader and as a team member. However, many of his teams were comprised of more junior individuals then were currently working on this initiative. In fact, his teams, on average over the last 6 projects, had 3 – 5 years of experience working on project teams.

Prior to the meeting with the team, the project manager received the responses to the two questions he asked the team members:

Question Asked

Responses Received

What is he doing effectively as the project team leader?

  • Obviously committed to the project
  • Had good relationships with the sponsor and other stakeholders
  • Was able to get necessary resources for the project
  • Understands how the project fits into the organizational strategy and shared that information with team

What does he need to learn to do better to be more effective as the project team leader?

  • Allow the team time to get to know each other
  • Encourage socializing – such as after work drinks or even talking about personal life prior to a meeting starting
  • Enable team members autonomy to get the work done
  • Allow team members to lead meetings on occasion
  • Encourage discussions or ideas during team meetings
  • Show that you trust the team
  • Utilize expertise/skills of team members
  • Share all information on project openly with all team members

We worked together on how he would address these areas of improvements so that he could be more effective as a project leader.  We addressed both how to resolve the issue now and what would be done moving forward.

The Team Meeting

At the meeting, the project manager acknowledged the responses he received from the team members and thanked them for being candid. He laid out his plan for increasing his effectiveness as a team leader and improving how he works with his team. He is the plan he laid out to address how he can be more effective:

Suggestions on improving from the team

What he will do now to improve how he is working with this current team

What he will do moving forward for all projects

Allow the team time to get to know each other

Set up a team get-together where they would spend a couple of hours socializing. Much of the team was co-located and the few who were not would be able to attend in person (permission was received by sponsor to incur the travel cost which was limited given everyone was located in Northeast.)

Moving forward, he’ll kick off every project with an initial team kick off meeting to enable the team time, before they even begin project work, to get to know each other.

Encourage socializing – such as after work drinks or even talking about personal life prior to a meeting starting

Work with the team to schedule a couple of “after hours” get-togethers, celebrations for meeting milestones and enable for some time at the beginning of the meetings for team members to talk on a personal level. (This will enable those who are not co-located to spend some time socializing with the team. Permission was granted to bring these individuals in to celebrate major milestones.)

Moving forward, he will build in a variety of “just time to socialize” events for teams he is leading and be sure to participate in casual conversation before each team meeting.

Enable team members autonomy to get the work done

He will work with individual team members to better understand their skills and experiences to increase his comfort level in allowing them to perform their roles and responsibilities on the project team as they see fit.

Moving forward, he will ensure that he spends time understanding the backgrounds of his team members so that he is comfortable allowing them to complete their tasks as they see fit without him overseeing every task.

Allow team members to lead meetings on occasion

Meetings specific to problem solving or decision making will be led by the individual on the team with the most expertise in that particular area of concern. Sub-teams will meet without requiring attendance of the project manager. Sub-team leads will update the project manager during regular weekly team meetings.

Moving forward, team meetings, problem solving/decision making sessions, etc. will be led by various members of the team, not just the project manager.

Encourage discussions or ideas during team meetings

He will work to ensure that at every team meeting he actively engages the team members in discussions, brainstorming sessions, and generally getting their input and suggestions.

Moving forward, he will actively engage all team members during team meetings by encourage participation in discussions of agenda items.

Show that you trust the team

He will begin to develop stronger relationships with team members by getting to know them – their skills, expertise, experiences – so that he can begin to build trust with them. He will also show that he can be trusted by sharing more information, trusting them to do their jobs and encouraging participation on team decisions.

Moving forward, he will spend time at the start of each project getting to know the team members, establishing relationships with them and letting them get to know him so that they can begin to build trust in working together. This will include making efforts to share information, communicate more effectively and enable autonomy to get the job done.

Utilize expertise/skills of team members

Through understanding the backgrounds, expertise and skills of each team member, he will better be able to utilize their expertise and experiences in the appropriate roles on the team.

Moving forward, by spending time with each team members, he will learn their skills, expertise, backgrounds and prior experiences and how they can add value to the team.

Share all information on project openly with all team members

Beginning immediately, he will communicate more frequently and openly and honestly with team members, sharing information regularly rather than on a “need to know basis.”

Moving forward, he will ensure regular communications and updates to the team – sharing project information as he receives it so there is a better understanding of the project among all team members and team members can better participate in decision making sessions.

Stay tuned for Part III where we’ll check in on how things are going with the team.