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Getting to know your project team

I had the opportunity recently to present two workshops at the AIPM 2014 National Conference in Brisbane. The first workshop was for the AIPM’s Young Emerging Project Professionals (YEPP) contingent.

We workshopped our way through building an integrated project team and then had an experience of learning about each other through playing cultureQs® for 30 minutes, with a debrief. Running a workshop with a group of YEPP project professionals is an energetic experience. They are the future leaders, the future mega project managers. and having exposure to young professionals and their ideas is something I seek out.

It got me thinking as part of the integrating teams and also on the call to action, given that people-related problems are one of the primary obstacles to success. How do we form the project team? Who and what competencies do the right group of people need in order to get our projects to successful outcomes?

So we got talking about integrating teams quickly, one of the challenges of a project manager when you don’t have the luxury of taking your time. How can we adopt a common focus on a common purpose of objectives? The insights were fantastic. They included:

  • Develop a clear purpose and direction of the team.
  • Understand yourself and others (including preferences, work styles, culture differences and decision making styles).
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities (do this in the first week, document them, take time to know the strengths and challenges of each team member).
  • Focus on consistency of method and application: agree up front on the tools and techniques you need to use throughout the course of the project and make sure everyone knows these and is capable of using them.
  • Reinforce the team directions and purpose: Reward success, fix areas of ambiguity or conflict quickly.

The YEPP group got into playing a getting-to-know-you game. What do you value? How would you solve a certain problem? What does success look like to you?

In the debrief, the group identified that some of the challenges they faced was that in project teams you don’t often take the time to discuss your underpinning values and philosophies. But when you do, it gives you a great insight quickly into your colleague and assists with building a stronger team.

All of YEPP thought that they would factor in a formal project kick-off meeting with time to get to know each other and then reinforce this through the course of the project through regular reward and recognition processes including social events.

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Elissa Farrow is the founder of About Your Transition, a business specialising in strategy development and implementation, the Director of Ethics of the International Institute of Project Coaching and the Global Secretary for the Change Management Institute. With extensive experience in strategic organisational change, portfolio, program and project management in the public, commercial and not-for-profit sectors, she has assisted organisations in increasing their delivery maturity by implementing enterprise-wide methodology and building the capability of the people who use them.
has written 41 articles for us.