Straight and Narrow

We Asked the Project Management Community: How Do You Correct Bad Habits on the Team?

 

Voices | PROJECT TOOLKIT

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ALVAREZ / E+ / GETTY IMAGES

NOTHING PERSONAL

“I’ve seen otherwise great project teams waste precious time on internal arguments. A team member might take productive feedback as a personal issue, instead of considering it an opportunity to improve his or her work—and that ultimately compromises the project as a whole. To keep things on track, they should listen carefully to each party’s position and focus on the behaviors and facts—not on personalities. Conflict management training could also be provided to the team in order to prevent those behaviors in the first place.”

—Marcelo Creimer, PMP, internet of things and blockchain project manager, eZly Tecnologia, Sao Paulo, Brazil

TICKING THE BOXES

“We juggle many things under pressure, so it can be easy to not scrutinize the details before submitting work for internal review. I created a production checklist to ensure quality when updating or creating a new webpage. New team members are required to submit a completed checklist as part of the production process until they learn the ropes. And more seasoned team members can use it as a guide as needed.”

—Deirdre Spencer, PMP, senior digital experience project manager, Simpson Strong-Tie, Pleasanton, California, USA

SHOW YOUR CARDS

“Software teams tend to fall into the ‘show it only when it’s ready’ trap. But there is no bigger mistake than building something right that should have never been built at all. I’ve helped teams break this habit by baking in frequent demos with key stakeholders as part of the plan. This improves stakeholder and team confidence, highlights key dependencies and risks, and helps secure timely feedback.”

—Venkatraman Lakshminarayanan, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMP, associate director, projects, Cognizant, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

GREATER GOOD

“I often see teams working in autopilot, executing tasks but forgetting the main purpose or the final objective. To sustain awareness amid complexity, I try to bring a different dimension of purpose to each team meeting: for whom or why we’re working on the project, how people will benefit from it or what we can learn from it. Reminders of our purpose bring meaning to the work and instigate curiosity, and it gives team members a sense that they are part of something bigger.”

—Mariana Ladeira de Azevedo, PMP, people manager, Avanti E-Commerce, Florianopolis, Brazil

VOICE OF REASON

“Team members can slip into making assumptions during project execution or making decisions without first verifying with the product owner. To keep things aligned, I ensure the team doesn’t forget key stakeholders during our planning sessions, and I question the validation that has taken place around key features in development. Just starting the discussion about crossing all of our t’s and dotting every i helps to ensure the team is delivering intended value and meeting all requirements.”

—Emily Hannon-Luijbregts, PMP, project manager, Siemens Digital Industries Software, Breda, the Netherlands

All for One

Building a cohesive team is one way to reduce bad habits.

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Source: The Future of Teamwork: 2020 Reflektive Trends Report, Reflektive, 2019

Skills Check

The top five essential team skills, according to project leaders:

  1. Collaborative leadership
  2. Empathy for the voice of the customer
  3. Risk management
  4. Innovative mindset
  5. Methodology or framework governance

Source: Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report: Tomorrow’s Teams Today, PMI, 2020

SHARED VISION

“Dividing project work into groups can take a toll on the team spirit. Each group might only care about the work that relates to them—for instance, the electrical group is only interested in delivering on the electrical scope. The project manager needs to communicate effectively with the entire team, sharing the concerns of each group and highlighting the importance of team synergy to project delivery. When each group respects the roles and responsibilities of the others, it helps to minimize risks, rework and poor-quality products. It’s like a soccer team: If they win, they win together, and if they lose, they lose together.”

—Ramy Kassem, PMP, quality, occupational health and safety, and environmental lead auditor, Vertiv, Melbourne, Australia

PAINT THE BIG PICTURE

“Teams can lose the balance between the urgent issues of the day and the product strategy, as well as the team’s continuous improvement. To reset, I’ll create reminders to talk about the product strategy with management. Reminding ourselves of our goals is a natural next step to analyzing how to improve our processes and fix—instead of normalizing—any pain points on the team. Promoting a culture of iterative development, not just for the product but also for processes, is key. We need to constantly check our framework to see if it’s taking us in the direction we want—and adjust accordingly.”

—María José Romo Cotera, project coordinator, Lautsprecher Teufel, Berlin, Germany

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