8 Chapters
Medium 9781523097951

Skill Three How to Build Highly Successful Teams: The Loop

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The wedge and the three hats bring into context the multiple people skills required of team leaders today. Building on these concepts, the next essential skill for project leaders is knowing how to create a highly successful team, which is defined as a group of people working together with a shared purpose of meeting and exceeding stakeholder expectations through superior collaboration, team commitment, and selfless behavior.

Great team leaders do not manage people; they lead people. They don’t tell people what to do; they motivate, facilitate, and inspire people to cooperate, collaborate, and support each other in achieving shared objectives, strategies, and goals. Also, great team leaders don’t manage teams; they manage team performance and behavior, and team behavior is what makes and breaks team success. Therefore, building a highly successful team requires skills in managing team behavior, and the most essential behavior is team inclusiveness.

CASE 3.1: THE COMPANY MERGER—FORMING A NEW TEAM

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Skill Seven How to Succeed When Faced with Change, Problems, and New Challenges: The Black Box Effect

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

What do change, problems, and new challenges have in common? They all involve managing uncertainty. In project management, uncertainties are normal, expected, unavoidable, and inherent in the work. You have to contend with uncertainties in project execution, schedules, budgeting, procurement, contracting, and technology, as well as in leading people. Nothing in project management is predictable or guaranteed, so you’d better be good at managing uncertainty.

How is managing uncertainty a people problem? Uncertainty causes fear in people—often manifested as worry, concern, and anxiety—and excessive fear is the root cause for bad behaviors, conflicts, and poor performance. One of the most adverse behaviors that fear creates is risk aversion, and one critical behavior for overcoming the effects of fear from uncertainty is risk taking.

To run a successful team project, avoiding risk is not an option—you have to take risks. You’re taking a risk just by managing a project and leading your team through changes, conflicts, problems, and new challenges. You’re expected to help your team take risks in seeking better and faster ways to get things done, trying new approaches to solve problems, and improving work processes.

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Skill Five How to Turn Around Difficult People and Underperformers: Roll the Ball Forward

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the previous skill, the ice cream cone and finger injury cases served as valuable testimonies that attitude is a key determinant of motivation, happiness, and performance. But unfortunately, ice cream is not the solution for all people problems, and not everyone’s attitude can be improved with a pat on the back. It’s not uncommon to encounter employees who under-perform, carry a less than desirable attitude, and make minimal contributions yet they see no problems with their performance or behaviors. These individuals are known as difficult people and underperformers, and it takes a special set of skills to understand and correct these low performers. Difficult and underperforming behaviors are probably the toughest people problems to solve because your options are few and far between. You can’t excuse it and reward bad behaviors. You know that doing nothing can be a slow death for your project, so you’re left with the unenviable task of confronting the problem employee. Confronting poor performers is a process that most project leaders don’t like to face, but Skill Five offers a new and effective model for addressing and turning around difficult people and underperformers.

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Skill Four How to Boost People’s Attitudes, Happiness, and Performance: The Ice Cream Cone

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You can find pockets of highly functional work teams in any organization. With a combination of strong leadership, a compelling mission, good resources, effective processes, talented people, and inclusive behaviors, you have a great formula for generating excellent results. We have established that behavior drives team performance and that the six key team behaviors are mutual trust, interdependence, accountability, transparency, learning, and valuing individuality. These behaviors are important for preventing exclusion, reducing conflicts, and maintaining the loop, but how do you maximize people’s performance? What is the secret for getting that extra, discretionary effort from people when you need it? Also, the new generation of workers wants much more than just challenging projects, team camaraderie and a biweekly paycheck. How do you keep people happy and satisfied with their work? How do you ensure continued high team commitment? All teams and individuals have their ups and downs—how do you invigorate a team when things get a bit dull? These are some of the questions we will be addressing in Skill Four.

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Skill Two How to Be Tough on People Problems without Being Tough on People: The Three Hats

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It was proposed in Skill One that project team leaders are now operating in a more horizontal, three-level, organizational structure that is shaped like a wedge, reflecting the relative distribution of power, authority, scope, responsibilities, and leverage. But as a team leader, how do you execute and use these principles on a day-to-day, face-to-face basis in the workplace? By virtue of your authority, power, and position, you have a captive audience of employees who report to you, and you are expected to use your power and authority to complete team projects successfully. As the person in charge, you are expected to handle tough problems, make tough decisions, and perform tough tasks in order to get things done. You’re continuously tested, challenged, and placed in tough situations. To survive and succeed, it helps to be tough-minded, persistent, forceful, and decisive; but how do you do that without being autocratic, heavy-handed, and disliked by your employees? You want to be respected, not feared; be flexible, not permissive; and lead, not control; but how do you strike the right balance and yet fulfill your organizational roles and duties as a project team leader? You play different roles and wear different hats in your job—the key is to understand and master these roles and hats. In Skill Two, we’re going to use three real-life cases to build on the concept of the wedge and introduce the concept of the three hats.

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