How Working Together as a Team Diffuses Project Management Heat

  • Personality Conflicts — There are people that you absolutely LOVE working with each day. You share common interests, enjoy each other’s company, and genuinely look forward to working with them on your projects. On the other hand, there are some people that you absolutely DO NOT LOVE working with each day. Just seeing them walk into the conference room makes your blood pressure rise. Maybe their personality rubs you the wrong way, they are too loud or lack tact, or have a tendency to not follow through on what they say they are going to do.Guess what? You might not be their favorite person either.Every person in your company has certain feelings about everyone else, which can create a hotbed of personality conflict.
  • Hard to Please Clients — A large cause of friction on many projects are clients that are hard to please. These are the clients that start the relationship with “I’m not sure what I like, but come up with some options and I’ll tell you what I don’t like.”There are clients that don’t honor their own commitments but expect you to honor yours, even if your commitments are dependent on them following through with theirs. You will have interesting and heated conversations with your team as you work through unreasonable client demands or timelines.
  • Changing Direction — If your company constantly changes direction, that instability can be a very real source of friction.You’re scared to go in each Monday and hear what game-changing silver bullet the executive team conjured up over the weekend that will take the company to the next level…for this week at least. You can just hear the gears grinding against each other as you bring your project team to a full stop and make a 180 degree U-turn. Priorities must be shuffled around, gears changed, and you now must ramp up new teams on new projects.
  • Plain Ol’ Mistakes — Yes, plain ol’ mistakes can introduce great friction and heat in a company.For example, a project may have been sold to a client but was terribly underestimated, and now there is some confusion about what is to be delivered. The contract was written so nebulously that it could be interpreted either way.You and your team are now stuck working on a dog of a project that is doing nothing but costing the company money.
  • United Front to Management — Let’s say you and some of the functional managers on your team are responsible for a mistake that caused some heat. Want to make the heat even more intense? Start pointing fingers at each other and try to blame someone else. That will be sure to create more friction.Rather, when a sizable mistake is made, it’s best to come together and take ownership of the problem. Meet with management as a team and explain the situation. Let them know what occurred, but more importantly, what solution has been developed to deal with the problem.The solution may not fix the problem 100%; however, it will definitely reduce the complications caused by the problem. Management will appreciate your upfront dealings, and your time won’t be wasted on blame-storming sessions.
  • Hold a Reset Meeting — Are your clients out of control and not pleased with what you’ve done? Is nothing good enough for them? It may be time for a reset meeting to dispel some of the heat. This is a time when your company should work together as a team with the client to hit the reset button. Present a candid and united front to your clients. Let them know that you are aware of some shortcomings on the part of your company and what you are going to do to improve in these areas. Also, point out areas that your client can improve that will make the relationship work better. It’s always a two-way street, and you should never go in saying that everything is your fault.I worked with a company that unofficially included a reset meeting as part of the project plan! It was given a different name like “3-Month Regroup,” but the purpose of the meeting was to work together and reset expectations. It would take the heat off for three or four months until it was time for the next regroup.
  • United Front to Stakeholders — The reverse of a united front to management is for management to present a united front to all those who are all involved in a project. There may be a couple of executives who don’t fully support an initiative in progress, and are lobbying for the company to move in different directions. It’s important for them to keep these discussions amongst their executive peers and not with the rank and file of the project team. Otherwise, their disunity will divide loyalties and create more heat.

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Aarav Singh

Aarav Singh

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