Here’s the background.
- You are an experienced project manager and team leader for a large technology company.
- You are asked to lead new teams rather frequently to complete various IT projects.
- Your latest team of 4 is tasked with reviewing the effectiveness of a technology solution your unit developed for accounting back in December of last year.
- The folks in accounting want an analysis of what’s working well and what’s not.
- There is some sense on the client side that the solution implemented for them is not sufficiently robust.
Your new team includes the following team members who you’ve known, but not known well, for some time:
- Andrea is, driven, a bit showy, and tends to think she has all the answers.
- Jason is low key, talks rarely, is methodical but seems a bit bored no matter what is going on.
- Shama is serious and a doer – but her motivation seems to shift depending on her own goals and what she thinks is most important – not necessarily what others think is important.
- Finally, Nigel is bright, warm and outgoing but sometimes inattentive when it comes to finishing up details. The clients love him but when he doesn’t make a deadline they lose “the love” pretty quickly.
The new project just kicked off. In the meeting to get it off the ground, the behaviors exhibited in the past seemed true to form today.
Andrea is ready to get it done fast and thinks she knows what the problem is; Jason hasn’t said what he thinks; Shama seems neutral at this point; and Nigel is somewhat eager but not sure the deadlines of the client are realistic.
You think the technical skill sets of these individuals are right for the project – but not sure the five of you can work together easily to have shared goals and overcome what is expected to be tough push back from the client.
What would you most likely do?
Conduct some team building before the team loses what little excitement they have. HR has launched a great new team building set of exercises you hear has helped some challenged teams around the company. You don’t think you have anything to lose, and lots to gain.
Meet one on one with each team member. There are only 4 and all work close to you in the same office which is actually very rare these days. You could focus on sharing how you think each can use their technical strengths to support the new project.
Bring the team together and give everyone an opportunity to focus on connecting with one another, Give each person a chance to get to know everyone by asking each member (starting with yourself) to share something about another team experience — like “what was your best team or worse team experience ever.”
Ask each to share why it was the best or worst and what role each played in each situation.
After sharing, discuss what you’ve learned and how you can channel each person’s strengths into a productive approach to getting the work of this team done in the most effective and efficient ways. Actually discuss how you will work together as a team – make decisions, resolve conflict, conduct meetings, share information, etc.
If you choose #1:
You most likely will not hit a home run. While it is true it likely can’t hurt to conduct some team-building with any team, it makes more sense when beginning work on a team to first spend time getting to know people and how best to interact with them as individuals before throwing them into a team building exercise. Knowing yourself and other people is the foundation of working well with them and achieving the most productivity.
If you chose #2:
You are on the right track, but actually pushing too hard to get them into the project quickly. Rather, try using the limited time you have to get to know them, get to understand their style and approach, and get them involved in figuring how best THEY think they can contribute.
If you chose #3:
You are on track attempting to get to know the people individually and also beginning the process of thinking about how to get some cohesion in this new team. By modeling and disclosing some key things about you and giving others a similar opportunity, you’ll actually build stronger ties and increase cohesion. The emphasis on both tasks and starting with the “getting to know each other” is what makes this the best answer.
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