Are Your Projects Shovel-Ready and Team Prepared?

fiskars_shovelAre your projects “shovel ready”? For those of you who have not been paying attention, shovel ready projects is the term President Obama has been using to describe projects he favors for the stimulus spending package; the term refers to those projects that are already designed and permitted – in other words, those projects that are ready to launch.

I ask you, are your projects both shovel ready and team prepared?

How many of us have made the mistake of over-focusing on planning the project, lining up our shovels, only to fail miserably because we forgot to focus on the health of our team?

Look, no project can succeed without a project team. More likely than not, your project will require a number of participants from different areas within your organization. It’s also highly likely you will need to involve parties from external agencies, whether they are consultants or vendors. Regardless of whom or how many you have on your team (or how many shovels you order), you cannot succeed in meeting deliverables and deadlines unless you act as a high-functioning team.

As you equip your team with necessary project tools, be sure to include a few to promote healthy teamwork. Introduce a set of behaviors for your team to live by; create awareness and instill accountability for a set of behaviors which will improve decisions, efficiency, and business results.

To successfully define team behaviors, create a set of Expected Behaviors that use simple language, apply to organizational culture, and can be easily understood and practiced. No matter how large or small the organization, all expected behaviors must be clear and comprehensible to all team members, regardless of position or title. Teams are more likely to realize results if they establish straightforward behaviors directly related to improving team dynamics. Create measurable behaviors so that team members can easily be held accountable.

Here are a set of team behaviors that have universal appeal. Regardless of team size, project duration, or corporate culture, this set of behaviors has been introduced to many organizations and project team members with a warm welcome. Feel free to adjust as necessary – After all, it’s all about what’s right for your team; you, as the project manager, must introduce a set of behaviors that constitute appropriate behavior and strong leadership across 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

Once behaviors have been defined, it is now up to you to introduce the behaviors to your team, so all team members have a general understanding of the behaviors and heightened awareness of same during team interactions.

Team experience to date suggests one size does not fit all. However, teams who do introduce a set of Expected Behaviors have found that minimum conditions for success include leadership buy-in, stable team membership, and a commitment to purpose. Project teams that introduce Expected Behaviors early in team development are more successful. Success comes when teams use a couple of quick and simple tools to introduce Expected Behaviors, support specific team interactions, or remedy a specific team issue.

So, put your shovels aside; instead of digging holes this week, we’ll be filling them.


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