Achieving repeatable success often involves developing the right formula. Project teams are no different—they strive to find that mixture of expertise, skills, and efficiency that enables them to execute projects and satisfy stakeholders.
The problem with project formulas is that they can sometimes become a rut that actually makes the team less effective over time. But rather than allow the status quo to limit future success, savvy Project Teams know they should continually seek out ways to improve on the formula by infusing new energy and experience into the team.
If the group dynamics in your project office are starting to feel a little stale, consider these strategies to help boost engagement and keep team members excited.
Change up how the team solves problems. New problems are always cropping up. Challenges may arise due to changes in market pressures, resource availability, and the other factors that are constantly in a state of flux. When the Project Team becomes too entrenched in how it deals with issues, the ability to be creative in tackling new problems diminishes. The team’s solutions must also be evolving to meet these changing needs.
To keep everyone’s problem-solving skills fresh, consider tweaking the sub-team lineup every few projects. This doesn’t need to translate into an entire staff reorganization, but instead should focus on those people directly involved in troubleshooting specific issues. During brainstorming sessions, for example, you may want to bring in an expert from another sub-team to lend a new perspective to the problem. It may also make sense to enlist the help of a facilitator from time to time. This person can aid in looking at process-driven issues from a new viewpoint, or encouraging team members who normally stay in the background to participate more.
Change up partnerships. It isn’t difficult to spot those PMP®s who routinely work well together. Those partnerships, however, can sometimes limit the ability of individual team members to stretch outside their comfort zone. In a static sub-team, each person likely knows their strengths and may be compensating for others’ weak areas. Shoring up those disciplines where someone is soft may not happen without some prodding.
Creating the opportunity for PMP®s to take on new challenges may require the assigning of new sub-teams with an eye toward encouraging each PMP® to learn something new from someone they haven’t worked with much in the past. Look for complementary skill sets or a chance to put more junior-level team members with a seasoned veteran. In the right situation, everyone in the group will be able to learn something new and improve their competency levels.
Change up communication responsibilities. While it’s often helpful to identify just a small number of team members to act as points of contact for the Project Team, it’s a good idea to rotate those responsibilities once in a while. This ensures that PMP®s have better visibility on the range of customer requests coming into the project office. It’s also a chance for everyone on the team to improve their communication skills with internal team mates as well as a variety of stakeholder groups. An added benefit is the improved understanding customers may have once they see your team’s expertise is broader than the one or two people they’ve interacted with in the past.
If you’re worried about confusing your customer base, try leaving one known team contact in place while changing out the others. This gives everyone a warm introduction but doesn’t limit your Project Team’s flexibility. It also lets newer team members see how the communications flow is normally managed and where potential pitfalls lurk with your regular stakeholder groups.