How to get the most from your project team

I read an article from a website (please see below for link to the source) that briefly elaborates on how should a project manager successfully manage the project and the team. After reading the article, I reflected to my role in the recent project I was pulled into at my work and thought about how these points mentioned in the article actually apply exactly as intended. The following are some of the ways to get the most out of the team:

1) Choose the right staff

2) Give them the big picture

3) Have confidence in the team

4) Spend time with the team

5) Set targets

6) Be a good communicator

While it will be of no value to the reader for me to delve into the above points. But my role in the current project at my work is very small in scope and time. I have been assigned just  a tiny piece of puzzle (and immaterial). But even then, the project manager made sure he spends time with me and the rest of the other folks who have been pulled in for support and resourcefulness. We have been give n a deadline to work with and also the consequences of not following the strict timeline. A sense of urgency has been created but this simply proves the point of being a good communicator. It is hard to motivate people who are really not interested in the project but by being good communicators and letting the person know how important his/her role is, a person will be motivated.

My question is, is project manager like a leader, that is born but cannot be trained? It doesn’t matter how much we learn in class, or even at work and with experience, there are some characteristics such as charisma for example, that only some folks possess. Do you agree?

9 thoughts on “How to get the most from your project team

  1. Leadership skills can be trained and learned – but what makes a leader (or project manager) EFFECTIVE in my opinion is both passion and experience. For your example, The project manager obviously could have simply emailed you the tasks to be completed. However, by taking the time to sit with you and help you understand your importance of how you impact the project, the project manager probably had a couple of things in mind.

    For one, resources tend to be better invested and motivated when they understand their importance to the overall goal. Therefore, the ‘immaterial’ aspects of the project tend to be the most at risk when the leadership doesn’t take care to make the entire team part of the overall goal.

    Also, I imagine the project manager probably understands that several small issues can create deadly perception issues that are difficult to shake off. This is what I call ‘death by a thousand cuts’. It is important to make sure the small stuff gets done right, as many times that is what executives see as the difference between meeting deadlines, and a high quality project

    Most importantly, I find that a true leader is passionate about leadership – by working with you, giving you clear deadlines and consequences and motivating you to be effective, there is a good chance that this manager is helping you to boost performance, grow your career and share some of his/her experience with you.

    I don’t think any of these traits are controlled by DNA so I guess I ‘don’t’ agree with you! But I appreciate your comment and sharing your experience!

  2. I both agree and disagree with the idea that some leaders/project manager’s are born vs created. To clarify, I definitely believe that some project manager’s and leaders are simply born. Some people are simply born with a certain levels of energy/passion/confidence that carry them through life to natural positions of leadership. However, I believe these people are at general, a minority.

    For a majority of people, project management and leadership is something that is learned. I actually remember an experience back in high school (a long time ago, but still applicable) when I was in Key Club as VP. Key Club is a community service organization. We had a girl that was being promoted to President and it was our duty to train her. Initially, she had huge reservations of getting in front of the 200+ group of members every week and learning how to motivate them. However, with time and training she easily overcame these boundaries and succeeded with flying colors. In my 4 years at Key Club, this has almost always been a problem for every new President and VP, but everyone then always goes on to succeed admirably. To me, that means training is the most important element rather than DNA.

  3. I would say half and half. First, I think leadership skills can be trained. We can take some classes about leadership; we can learn the knowledge from the book. All the things you listed, that is from book. However, a good leader need a lot of experience; people can only get it from learning and trying. There is no one can be a good leader without learning. Also, we can learn it at work. Some companies would provide some training program to new managers. However, I think being a good leader, he/she must enjoy or love to do it job. Some of the people might not want to manager other people because of their personality. Even though some them had talent that being a leader, but they also need to learn how to be a good leader. Leaders can be good or very bad. Therefore, I think the ongoing training a improve for new managers or old managers. I think everyone can be a leader as long as you interested and willing to learn.

  4. I agree with everything cited from the article, but I also greatly believe that a great leader/project manager must possess some intangible qualities in addition to the posted listed. One thing the article missed was how important it is for a leader to connect with his or her followers. Basically, a person cannot be a good leader if no one wants to follow him or her. While I was captain of my college volleyball team, I learned this lesson the hard way. Some of my teammates and I were extremely different and it proved hard to connect with them. My captainship pushed me outside of my comfort zone to learn to connect with people and fully understand how to motivate and lead them.

    In regards to the nature versus nurture leadership discussion, some leadership qualities can be taught, learned, and enhanced; however, leaders are more impactful when their qualities are inherent. Yes, anyone can be a leader, but not everyone can be a leader worth following.

  5. I also agree with all the points listed in the article, mostly because they are generalized points that can be applied in many different ways. I believe that any kind of leader, be it project manager or other, are most effective when they are in touch with themselves. A leader must be in touch with their own strengths and weaknesses, and know best to use their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. I think almost anyone has the capability to be a good leader, they just have to find the leadership style that works for them. As a manager myself, I know that I cannot lead my team in the same way my boss leads me, because we have completely different personalities. If I tried to mold myself after his leadership style I would be sure to fail.

    I also agree with Jesse that passion is the most important trait. This it true about leadership and basically anything in life: those who are most passionate are most likely to succeed. Also, if a leader or project manager is passionate about the task they are leading, that passion will rub off on their followers and help them produce better results.

  6. I think there are certain personality traits that sometimes you have and you don’t. Leadership skills I believe can be learned and formed through experience. While charisma and other personality traits may not be able to be drastically altered, I do not believe that would limit one’s leadership abilities. I’ve seen many great introverted and extroverted individuals lead organizations and groups very successfully. It is learning what works for each person and leading a group with those characteristics and personalities that will allow for great leadership to be displayed.

  7. I like how you talked about how project managers need to have confidence in a team along with making sure you give them the tools to see the big picture. But in order to be a great manager you must learn rather than born with the skills, seeing that what makes a great leader is someone who is experienced and learned from the mistakes they have maid in the past.

  8. When considering how to properly manager a team of workers, the project manager needs to know how to make the project successful. That means the project manager needs to use the “project triangle”. This will consist of the performance of those individual workers, the time that it will take to complete the targeted tasks, and last but not least, the cost of operation. These are the key factors in organizing a successful operation with your team. I also believe that the project manager needs to be able to relate with his team and know that he is not the dictator, but he is part of that team. As long as they have specific goals and use the project triangle efficiently, there task at hand will be a success.

  9. I tend to agree with most of the other comments on this post. I feel that effective and excellent performing project managers are both taught effectively and have the leadership instinct in them. Being introverted and a project manager at the same time may be effective in some projects, as chances are project staff members will not feel micro-managed, but at the same time I think it can be detrimental to a project in that not being able to communicate changes or ask for updates could cause projects to spiral out of control. In my experiences as a project manager, I always like to keep an (sorry for the cliche) open-door policy, where I’m always available to answer questions or handle issues. As a result, I have had to catch myself from being too micro-managing, and asking for updates in my replies to the team member. I feel having that type of policy where you’re open and available to answer questions also builds the team rapport as well.

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