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Project Practitioners > Interaction Skills

Posts Under "Interaction Skills"

Who Put the #$!&@ in Teams?
By Michael Aucoin
To adapt a line from the movie Animal House, "Teams–can't live with them, can't live without them!" That may be the conclusion of a 2013 survey commissioned by the University of Phoenix that revealed some troubling findings about the nature of teams in the workplace. 95 percent of those surveyed recognize that teams serve an important function, but only 24 percent prefer to work in teams. 68 percent who have ever worked in teams have had at least one experience with a dysfunctional team. 40 percent of those who have worked on teams have witnessed a verbal confrontation between team... Read More»

Establishing YOUR Project Team's Culture
By Jeff Richardson
You can tell the difference between an effective and ineffective team by simply observing ONE meeting. The underlying set of agreements becomes very apparent to an outsider, while team members are somewhat oblivious to how their team REALLY works because they have been immersed in the minutiae. Just like fish don't think much about water because they immersed in it, teams become resigned to a "that's just the way it is" mentality regarding how they works interact. Changing the way your team works together seems like a daunting task from the insiders perspective, even for many leaders. The complexity of... Read More»

Adapting to Our Partners' Perspective
By Jeff Richardson
Partnering is an evolving practice that is essential for survival in our rapidly growing global economy. On the surface the process seems simple and the savings substantial, but lying below the surface is a host of challenges and conflicts waiting to undermine good intentions. Your NDA’s and legal contracts are the least of your problems. When I first got involved in multi-company collaboration programs I was somewhat naive to the intricate differences in company cultures. There are hundreds of small, seemingly insignificant ways of operating that go unnoticed when immersed in your company’s ‘business as usual’ mode. These differences become... Read More»

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Creating New Team Connections
By Jeff Richardson
Resist the urge to “get right to work” when bringing new team members together to launch a new project. As the project manager, you’ve already gotten a head start by working for days, weeks or even months to build the business case and initiate the team’s kickoff. I’m constantly amazed at how haphazard the process for assigning project team member is at successful tech companies. So often engineers or support staff showing up at a kickoff session with no information about what’s going on or why they are here. Individuals coming together during this “forming” stage of team development1 may... Read More»

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Aligning People on Multi-Cultural Project Teams
By Jeff Richardson
Doesn’t it feel like sometimes the deck is stacked against you? Project success seems elusive as business complexity reaches a tipping point. I miss the days when technology innovation was the primary hurdle to overcome. In today’s environment, project leaders are dealing with complex set of variables that make their work more unpredictable than ever. Matrix structures, cross-cultural members, distributed locations, short term mindsets and unrealistic expectations are the norm in many companies. Managing these compounding factors isn’t as hopeless as it seems, provided you get the team aligned in moving in the right direction. Neuroscience experts are confirming insights... Read More»

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Shift Their Mind Paradigm
By Margaret de Haan
I’ve decided that I have become too much of a creature of habit, and so I have decided to start ignoring most of what I know works. I know, it sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and observing lately, and I’ve come across some interesting perspectives that my brain has spun together. The result looks like something that could have significant value in changing the current process paradigm. Ultimately, if we keep performing things in the same way, based on the scientific method of investigation and learning, how do we deviate away from basic... Read More»

Does Dysfunction Serve a Purpose?
By Michael Aucoin
When scanning articles or books, I like to include provocative or contrarian topics in my search - they often provide interesting or new points of view. With my interest in helping dysfunctional teams, my eye was immediately drawn to an academic paper, "The Functions of Dysfunction: Implications for Organizational Diagnosis and Change," by William A. Kahn, who is on the faculty at Boston University. My curiosity was piqued: what purpose could dysfunction possibly serve? We would all agree that dysfunction in a project team is counterproductive to the reason a team exists. With this premise, we tend to approach dysfunction... Read More»

Close the Complaint Department
By Michael Aucoin
Do you have a Complaint Department within your team? By that term, I do not mean the office that receives complaints from customers. Rather, this “department” is how individual team members air grievances about others on the team. For example, Lee has done or said something that Sam doesn’t like. Sam goes to Pat, an uninvolved third party, to complain about Lee. Such third party complaining is detrimental to a team for three reasons. It does not solve the underlying conflict, and creates an environment that prolongs the conflict. It may create factions within a team, meaning that the team... Read More»

Think Differently About Project "Crunch Time"
By Margaret de Haan
So we have all been the lead on a Project that hit “crunch time” where everyone has borrowed a sleeping bag and planned on camping at the office 24/7 for a few days to make sure that the date is met, right? Well I have been speaking to a number of individuals from different organizations at some of my networking events that I have attended recently, and one of the COO’s that I met came out with a revelation that I feel I just have to share even though it should be considered obvious. In a discussion about the “Go... Read More»

How Should We Measure Success?
By Margaret de Haan
Obviously if you ask any of us the above question, the rote answer is “A Project that is delivered within scope, on time and within budget”. But really, it isn’t that easy, is it? That definition, as with everything, depends on the perspective of what your team and your Project Sponsor defines as "within scope” and “on time”. I have struggled with this since starting out as a Project Manager, and I have found that that possibility of misalignment in the perception of those particular Project components is most likely rooted in the corporate culture, and the level of maturity... Read More»

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