Sometimes project managers make the assumption that professionals brought together on a project will know how to get along with each other. Sadly, this isn't the case. Conflicts abound and projects can be easily derailed if the project manager doesn't take control and manage team behavior.
While certainly easier to say than do, there 6 tips from the August 2006 issue of PM Network that are worth thinking about before you, if you're a project manager, bring together a team.
- Make a Plan: Putting together a meeting agenda often elicits smirks. But these same smirking people are the ones that come out of meetings having wasted time talking about things that added no value. Once an agenda is set, be sure to stick to it.
- Articulate Behavior Expectations: As the project manager, you need to establish boundaries and guidelines so that team members will know what they'll be held accountable for and kind of support they'll get. Along with this, you'll need to understand the different personality styles of each team member and how each style will interact with each other style.
- Outline Consequences: When disruptive behavior occurs, respond promptly and consistently. This is one that I often see ignored. Every large team seems to have a member that causes a lot of grief and stress amongst the others. Either because of fear of confrontation or of the human resources department, this team member is allowed to continue to be disruptive sometimes with the misguided hope that things will get better.
- Establish Communication Patterns: Discuss with your team how they should handle personality differences so that the whole team doesn't come to a halt when they occur.
- Set Rewards: Group rewards, a form of employee motivation, can stimulate collaboration and a sense of ownership in the outcome of the project. The key is rewarding the whole group consistently and making it known how they will be rewarded from the onset.
- Monitor Progress: Even when team members are working independently of each other, it is important to establish a schedule for updates and collaboration. Again, from the start of the project, establish a reporting system so the team will know what is expected of them.