How to Get Teams Performing Faster Part 2

From the Eye on the Workforce Blog
Workforce management is a key part of project success, but project managers often find it difficult to get trustworthy information on what really works. From interpersonal interactions to big workforce issues we'll look the latest research and proven techniques to find the most effective solutions for your projects.

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Two Global Facilitation Techniques

Barriers to teaming will slow down your project with isues that may not be appropriate for your project issues list, such as

“One of our team members is such as expert, he refuses to do work”
“I’m finding it difficult to engage a co-worker in completing a task."
"They don't like me here and I can't get work done."

In my last post, I started to describe barriers listed in this working paper (pdf) from Harvard Business School and how you can knock down some of these barriers in your project. In the working paper, researchers solved a problem in routine health care emergency room management, but the issues and barriers were similar to, albeit worse than, issues in project management.

 Team Obstacle #2:  High-level of effort involved in meeting people and engaging them in shared tasks.

 Several factors lead to this barrier.

  • In general some personalities find it difficult to interact with others. They are not shy necessarily; their introverted nature just does not naturally result in skills to engage others in shared tasks. This is not the “nerd defense;” it is the human condition.
  • Consider the plight of project contingency workers. They may not know employees at the start of teaming. They may not know the organizational relationships or interpersonal dynamics of the employees. To make matters worse, they may suffer that a stigma from being a contingent employee.
  • Another factor to consider comes from team obstacle #1. Some powerful individuals or bullies will abuse their power in teams and not fulfill their responsibilities.

 What can you do to help with this mixed bag of problems?

  • Make introductions more effective by sending biographical info in advance. Promote each team member, focusing on their expertise and experience relevant to your project. Get help from co-workers if you need it and make sure information is accurate. You don’t have to exaggerate but focus on achievements that are project-relevant.
  • When introducing those with more potential power, describe the benefits of this power in terms of their ability to help directly with team task completion. That’s a project management “Judo move.”
  • You typically receive bio information about contingency employees during selection. Use this to make their introductions like regular employees. This equal treatment will help minimize contingency stigma.
  • Make sure team leads reemphasize during the project that when a project co-worker expresses the intention to work together to complete a task, it is expected that the individual requested will participate actively to complete the task.

* Judo is a martial art where practitioners use the strength and power of opponents against them.

OK, there are a couple more barriers to teaming that we will address next and these will also interrelated with the first two. Until then, let me know what problems are you having with effective teaming and how these problems are affecting your project?

Posted on: April 02, 2012 06:37 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Wonderful selection of blog articles here with great links and very timely information too!. Every PM needs to know the Project Management "Judo Move" for their next project. I''ll make sure to make it over here to your blog more often and others should join me.

Perhaps a contest or competition towards achieving this faster performance goals could help as well. Heres a great read on its intrinsic benefits:

Perhaps a contest or competition towards achieving this faster performance goals could help as well. Heres a great read on its intrinsic benefits:

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