Today, President Obama signs a massive Economic Stimulus Package, offering significant funding for new infrastructure projects. Dust off your shovels!
Regardless of project type or size, this is a great time to introduce a set of Expected Behaviors to your project team to support improved decisions, efficiency, and project results. As a reminder, here is a universally-accepted set of team behaviors for you to consider for your project team:
· Treat others with dignity and respect
· Support intra- and inter-departmental teamwork
· Demonstrate an ability to problem-solve and make timely decisions
· Be responsible for your actions
· Consistently share knowledge and information
· Actively seek and receive feedback for improvement
As you prepare your toolkit to support effective and efficient project management activities, have you also considered a few tools to support the health of your project team? The toolkit does not need to be big or complicated to be effective. Actually, it should be exactly the opposite. A toolkit to support strong team dynamics should include a few simple, user-friendly tools that teams can use to develop and refine their adoption of Expected Behaviors.
The toolkit should include enough tools to meet team needs, but not so many tools that it overwhelms the users. A small variety of tools should be available, to meet or support different team challenges as the project/program progresses through stage gates. Some tools should be designed to help teams initially agree on how they will operate, and are only revisited if those agreements are not being kept. Other tools should be included for the purpose of helping teams address specific problems caused by not practicing a given Expected Behavior. Overall, the toolkit should be used to encourage the healthy differences of opinion that naturally arise and enable the kind of respectful debate that occurs all the time in high-performing teams.
Project managers can begin the process by planning a discussion with their team about the impact and value of adopting Expected Behaviors as a way to enhance team effectiveness. The intent is to have the project manager initiate a discussion that guides the team to evaluate which behaviors are done well and indentify where and how improvements can be made.
The project manager can begin the discussion by setting the context. It is important to reinforce the value of team behaviors from the leader’s perspective. The leader should express personal commitment to team behaviors and acknowledge that even leaders don’t get them “right” all the time. As such, the project manager must give the team permission to hold each other accountable, including the leader. The team leader must actively seek input from each team member as to whether the leader is demonstrating Expected Behaviors. Sharing the idea that all team members are created equal when it comes to supporting healthy and productive team interactions is critical.
Have team members evaluate their team’s current adherence to Expected Behaviors. How? Just ask them. You won’t need to hit them over the head with a shovel to get some good, honest feedback. So, be bold, ask your team members how you are doing as a team; them be brave, and act upon the feedback.