Team-building: Moments of Truth

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

Project team building is a critical success factor. As a project manager, you want a project team of highly motivated, aggressive problem solvers. You want team members who are totally committed to their deliverables, budget and due dates. And you want them to support you and other team members. Do teams like this actually exist?  Yes, but they are very rare. Here’s how to build yours.

Many team members have suffered from the poor performance of other leaders and now you, the new project manager, have to fix it. If you don’t, bad team performance could kill your project (and your career).     Leading Teams Main Page

It’s easy to say you want a motivated and committed team on the new “critically important” project you’re going to manage. But how do you build one?  What team-building strategy should you follow? There are certainly team building classes you can attend. Another option is using a facilitator to help create a more effective culture. But it’s easy, and common, for those behavioral changes to vanish as soon as the training session is over or the facilitator leaves.  Leadership and Team Assignments

Team Building: Moments of Truth

So it’s pretty much up to you to build a motivated and committed project team. You can’t just talk about how everybody’s going to be highly motivated and aggressive problem-solvers, etc.  Instead, you do it in three critical instances of your interaction with the project team. This is the heart of team-building. These instances are moments of truth that do the following:

  • establish the culture of the team
  • communicate your expectations
  • teach the project team how you will work together.team building

These team building moments of truth occur at particularly important times in your relationship with each team member.

Moment of Truth #1

The first occurs when you assign a task to a team member. You must assign each team member tasks that are within their skill set. If you don’t, you will set them up for failure and undermine any trust that existed between you and the team members. Your bad assignment techniques alert the team members to start protecting themselves from blame. Team Motivation

Moment of Truth #2

The second moment of truth occurs when you work with each team member to estimate the duration of their task assignments. If you don’t consider the team member’s honest estimate of the work required, they feel they’re being set up for failure. And that causes the team members to pad their estimates.

Moment of Truth #3

Finally, how you handle bad news about an assignment is critically important. You can’t lose your temper or punish the team member if a problem arises or a task completion date slips.  Your behavior must encourage team members to tell you about problems as early as possible. That gives you time to work together to fix them. Problems are inevitable. So team members shouldn’t be punished when they make you aware of them.   Effective Feedback

You can learn how to build a high-performance team in our online project management courses. You’ll work privately with an expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.

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Author: Dick Billows, PMP

Dick has more than 25 years of project and program management experience throughout the US and overseas. Dick was a partner in the 4th largest professional firm and a VP in a Fortune 200 company. He trained and developed 100's of project managers using his methodology. Dick is the author of 14 books, over 300 articles and director/producer of 60 short project management videos. He and a team of 25 project managers work with client companies & students across the US and in Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. They have assisted over 300 organizations in improving their project performance. Books by Dick Billows are on Amazon.com