What’s Love Got to Do With It? Project Teams in Project Management
What’s a project manager without her team? In trouble.
We hear it all the time, , “it takes a village”, “it takes a team”, “no one man stands alone”, “behind every good man is a good woman.” What does this mean in the realm of project management?
First off let me state that I’ve been engaged in projects where the effort only necessitated the man hours of one person. With that being said, even then, I was not a one-person team. There were stakeholders, a client lead, someone who I needed to share information with. Those are team members as well. In the more traditional sense, a project team is made up of a PM, analysts, coordinators, technical resources, business etc. These people come together for a specific time, in a specific team structure, for a specific set of activities and objectives, and then once completed, they disperse.
We often say how important our team is to us… But do we really mean that?
Well, we should! As project managers, we should constantly implement ways to increase the involvement and effectiveness of our team. No, it doesn’t have to be a glamorous, over-the-top “hooray” session each day. Simple things we do can make an impact on how well our project team operates as a unit for the amount of time they are together.
We’ve asked Project Managers across various industries these 2 questions:
“What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and “What are the coolest things you’ve seen or done to keep a project team working together?”
Check out their humorous, serious and real responses:
1. Operations Manufacturing PM: Yes, caring for each other at some human level is critical. I’ve taken my team race car driving and got to see a competitive and fun side of the team. We talked about the illegal passing, hard crashes, and bruises for weeks afterwards. It gave us all something to laugh about amongst our project team, in fact we still laugh about it today.
2. IT Software Implementation PM: We don’t have to love each other, but we do have to find something in common that draws us together. For me that has always been community service. Somehow helping someone else takes the focus off our own hang-ups and allows us to work together to better someone else’s situation. At the beginning of the project, during our kickoff meeting, I bring a few community service event options to the table and the team agrees on one. Attending the event is totally voluntary, but for those who do attend, it is an amazing experience. We’ve donated books to a local library and registered with a local charity to help give food on a Saturday. It doesn’t take much but it does wonders to build up the team connection on a project.
3. Healthcare PCI Compliance PM: Love? Hmm, maybe. Competition? Definitely! I think people are naturally driven by some level of competition. Even if it’s competing with yourself. The drive to finish something on top, beat the odds, finish sooner than expected, get better test results than expected…whatever it is. I always have some type of monthly challenge for our project teams. For example: what team has the most completed deliverables without defects; fewest tardies at the daily scrum meetings; team with the most Help Desk tickets successfully resolved that month. We’re all kids at heart, and a little friendly competition amongst teams can be healthy.
4. Engineering PM: Love of Candy, absolutely. I had a program manager who did something I thought was so smart. She kept a candy jar at the corner of her desk. As people passed by, they stopped to snag a Now and Later or Starburst. You would think that only works on kids but it worked on us…all the time. Who can resist walking by a jar of Kit-Kats and not stop! Everyone that stopped of course felt compelled to spend at least 30 seconds saying ‘good morning’ to the provider of the goods. Our program manager got to know everyone by name and our team felt like she was accessible and actually communicated information more freely. The trick is not to make the candy jar a distraction, of course, which she did well. She didn’t talk for long, just long enough.
What about you? What’s love got to do with your project team? What cool things have you done to keep a project team working together?
Related blogs: Project Kickoff Meetings the Fun Way
Chrystal Richardson is Managing Partner of CE Wilson Consulting, a project management and business efficiency consulting firm that has managed projects for technology, mining, medical and manufacturing clients since 2001.