Having worked in a diverse range of businesses from a large blue chip automotive organisation, mid size telematics company to an incredibly small recruitment business I have come across a number of management styles and found some really work and others which truly do need locking away. Most of my motivational work has come through managing globally dispersed teams which is a little harder to execute the below suggestions however I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some fantastic projects in the UK and these tips really do work.
1. Inclusion – this seems more than obvious but how often have you overlooked a team member as “this part isn’t relevant to them”? I agree that it is both wasteful and unproductive to invite members of the team to meetings which aren’t deemed relevant, however an invite should be extended none the less but more importantly ALL team members should be put on copy of the meetings outcome minutes.
2. Meetings with a twist – try to think of ways which will jazz up meetings, keeping them fresh and productive. Set your goals to be met at the start and try taking turns each meeting with different members of the team facilitating – ask each facilitator to use a different method of presentation, keeping the format fresh.
3. Offer up tasks for grabs – there is always a huge list of tasks requiring attention in projects; why not offer some out for other members of the team to take a fresh approach on. The more junior members of the team will appreciate the opportunity to gain insight into different areas and taking this collaborative approach works to pull teams together; ideally the team members picking up the tasks will be choosing them rather than being lumbered with them.
4. Socialise – we may not choose to spend our weekends with our work colleagues, but an evening set aside once a month to go for a bar snack and drink on a Thursday afternoon is a good idea to get the team together in a more relaxed environment. Don’t talk shop – just let people talk and get to know each other outside the pressures of the office. Don’t force the gatherings but ensure all are very welcome to come along.
5. Rewards – some may argue that the reward is your salary, this is the kind of attitude managers with no responsiveness to people management come up with. Rewards can be little things such as food treats and a “thank you” every now and then. But if you have a team working through lunch times over a week to ensure a project is brought to close on time – you could buy the team lunch – either something delivered in or when the project is delivered, take them all out for lunch.
6. Team building events – steer clear of fusty outsourced “motivation” workshops and think about what will really engage the team, an activity which involves some stellar team work such as orienteering for an afternoon.
Leading on to….
7. Team lead activities – ask the team to get involved with designing activities rather than imposing what you think is needed on them.
8. Action based learning – give the team a challenge where they request support but have to define what they need. This type of activity is very beneficial as it promotes reflection on your own actions and doing the activities rather than being instructed.
9. Charity work – give something back to the local community such as getting the team to build a playground, decorate a deserving persons house or clear a wasteland into a nature reserve. Not only will you draw the team together, you will be helping others and what a fantastic piece of PR for the business.
10. Value your team – quite possibly one of the biggest ways to generate team spirit is for management to value the team. Rather than talking about “how much this is costing” but focussing on the benefits to be generated. Be patient, not all results are yielded immediately so accept that real change takes time.
If you are the owner of a business or a manager within a department, do you know your staff well? If the answer is no like many peoples answer then maybe it is time to carry out a team building activity. There are great days out that you can take part in across the country that will get you involved with the team and also help them to interact with one another. I am going to take a look at some of the best activities for team building in North East England:
If you know that your team would be up for an action packed activity then you should try out blind driving. If you really want people to have more trust in each other, there is nothing better than making them drive blind and only be able to drive safely by listening to somebody else. You could select the pairs of people who do not really speak to each other to encourage them to work together to make it round the course safely.
White water rafting
If you are still looking for something thrill seeking and involving water, then white water rafting is a brilliant choice. Not only is it an activity that will fuel adrenaline rushes but is a great way of getting people to work together. Making sure that you all pull together and do your bit to navigate around the course will ensure a really fun trip and colleague bonding.
If you know that your team would not enjoy the thought of doing something thrill seeking, why not take them for a chocolate making session, surely nobody would turn this down? If new team members have joined it will be a great ice breaker and a way for everyone to improve communication skills in a calm and fun atmosphere. With the smell of chocolate in the air everyone should feel at ease and comfortably ask each other for help.
If you want to do something a bit active but due to the time of year you have planned it don’t really want to go outside, why not try an indoor maze? You could set up different teams and locate them in different parts of the maze; they then have to try and find each other in the centre and then get back out! Leaving different clues will help everyone to pull together and help find the exit.
These are four very different ideas but all have the same goal of getting everybody involved in something enjoyable yet challenging that will improve communication. Mixing up usual social groups and separating them and using small numbers if possible is a great way to make shy people feel more comfortable and for extraverted types to adapt to being in a different situation. Having a mix of personalities in tasks works well as each person will bring something different.
Project management encompasses a large range of skills; leadership, planning, scheduling, communicating, decision making and being a visionary. Being able to identify these vital skills and fully develop your understanding of these abilities will ensure that you not only survive, but you excel within the field of project management.
The role of a project manager takes on many forms, and due to this; organisation and planning skills are listed highly as required abilities. Of course there are very few professions that do not require extensive planning, but project management demands a highly skilled approach as a skilful execution equates to outstanding results.
Project management requires the preparation of project documentation, requirement information, memos, project reports, personnel reports, vendor quotes, contracts and the supervision of the entire processes involved. An essential part of daily working includes organising meetings, developing teams and also, in some cases, organising media relations such as press releases and conferences.
Methodologies such as the PRINCE 2 (an acronym for projects in controlled environments, version 2) enables project managers to organise and control the six major variable factors of any project, these factors are cited as:
Much of the benefit of the PRINCE 2 methodology is its transferable and highly scalable nature. PRINCE 2 can be utilised across any project, including highly specialised and industry specific models (engineering models or developmental lifecycles).
People management skills
Strong project managers should display excellent people management skills. The human dimension bears little relation to the technical ability of an individual, but closely relates to leadership, conflict resolution and ultimately communication. Author and expert within the area of project management Steven Flannes, actually cites that, 80% of project management success comes from people skills and 20% from technical expertise.
Why are people skills so vital?
- The cyclical and stage nature of projects
- Increase in complexity of client remits
- Continual outsourcing of finite and cost effective resources
- Increased movement toward client driven project management structure
- Challenges of leading in matrix management structures
- Increase of virtual team coordinated efforts
Often, problems that project managers are faced with are completely unrelated to their technical competence, but interestingly it is the lack of interpersonal communication skills that pose the largest threat. The latter of course is an essential facet, but is vitally a core skill of a project manager.
It is argued that project managers who demonstrate a high degree of technical expertise are actually hindered within their ability to negotiate. Often great project managers take a more generalist point of view. Generalists, typically, elicit a higher degree or resourcefulness and tend to lean toward being more open to suggestions and ideas. This in turn increases the momentum of a project due to the fact that compromises have a higher degree of continuity.
Adversely to this notion, experts within a particular field tend to display a narrower mind-set that may or not be conducive to the end result.
An exhaustive breakdown of project activities and associated costs enable the project manager to identify trends quickly and plan pro-actively. Although, no project manager is expected to be an accountant but a thorough understanding of the “estimated cost process” clearly would be listed as integral. Cost planning is not only vital for your reputation, but also for maintaining strong and healthy relationships with clients.
Estimated costs should take into consideration for the entire lifecycle of the project. A detailed cost breakdown of resources (labour and materials) along with any regulatory implications should be undertaken. The cost analysis process should also insure against other extraneous factors. An estimated cost analysis must include all factors fixed and variable; this will essentially ensure that the entire project runs efficiently, effectively and to budget.
James King is a construction industry expert who has 20 years’ experience in the field of core cutting project management. He writes for Corecut, the UK’s leading diamond drilling and controlled demolition company.