increasing group cohesion

7 tips to increase working group cohesion

Having a strong, cohesive team, is the dream of every Project Manager.

Working in a team has become common in many organizations, but working with others may not always be easy, especially when team members disagree with each other.

This can lead to serious consequences, such as not finishing a project on time or breaking the budget.

Instead of angering in case of disagreements, groups should therefore learn to stick together and communicate in every situation.

If a group is cohesive, members are more motivated to work together towards a single goal, which will lead to success.

So, how can we increase the cohesion of the working group? Let’s see our 6 tips.

What is the working group cohesion?

Group cohesion results when a group of individuals feel connected and moved to achieve a common goal.

Team members respect, trust and support each other.

While cohesive teams are often made up of people with different skills, what unites them all together is a strong sense of identity drawn from the organization itself where they share values, goals and processes.

In a way, a cohesive group can be compared to a group of fans following the same sports team in search of a collective victory.

Team cohesion is important because this social and professional connectivity can create a culture that inspires employees to remain loyal to the company.

With team cohesion, the team will feel comfortable in their work environment and satisfied to be part of something greater than themselves and the individual.

How to increase working group cohesion

Team cohesion isn’t always immediate and is generally the result of targeted actions taken by managers to promote positive group dynamics.

Here are 7 tips that a project manager can adopt to increase team cohesion:

1. Set objectives and values

Before beginning to work on team dynamics, it is important to have the team’s goals and values in mind.

If the organization does not already have a clear mission or vision, now is a good time to create it.

These elements will provide team members with a clear and shared picture of what they are working on.

2. Provide training and development

In order to maintain a strong team cohesion, each member of the team should feel qualified enough to contribute to the overall objective in the first place.

Upon recruitment, employees should be provided with clear information on their responsibilities, as well as adequate training to ensure the efficient performance of their work tasks.

Over time, employees should improve their work and to do so, they will need opportunities to develop their skills.

This can be achieved through cross-functional collaboration within the organization itself or through company-sponsored conferences, programs or training courses.

This will help team members feel adequately prepared and move forward in their careers within the organization.

3. Support team building

Part of team cohesion is also based on the self-esteem and morale of individuals.

Embarking on team building activities can be a great way to build the empathy and respect needed within a successful team.

As employees interact with each other and get to know each other beyond their work roles, team cohesion will increase.

group cohesion

4. Promote and enhance communication

Team building only works with unambiguous and continuous communication and the project manager is in charge of providing the appropriate resources to accomplish this.

Everyone should be able to connect easily and comfortably with their colleagues, without blockages or interruptions.

Here’s how establishing different communication channels to help the team stay productive and involved becomes essential, such as choosing project management software that includes an instant messaging feature, so that even remote teams can remain easily connected and cohesive without distractions.

5. Build trust

When establishing channels for interaction, it is important that team members feel comfortable with open communication.

Whether they are discussing with the project manager or a colleague, no one should be reluctant to express their thoughts and ideas.

Team cohesion will not be achieved if secrets are being kept at the management level, even if unintentionally.

6. Celebrate success together

Celebrating success – big or small, as a group or individually – is key to maintaining the cohesion of a team.

When the entire organization works towards shared goals, it is appropriate to share the results as a group.

The project manager should remember to thank the team members for their hard work and, in the case of important successes, also give a recognition.

7. Have fun

Lastly, have fun.

This does not mean that work has to play second fiddle and that time has to be spent telling jokes, but seeing the workplace not just as a boring, dull office can boost employee morale.

At minimum you work 8 hours a day and if every now and then, for about ten minutes or so, team members find themselves telling funny stories about their lives, the project manager doesn’t have to worry, on the contrary.

Opening up and getting to know each other can only be seen as a positive element.

 

Group cohesion is therefore the best way to ensure that all talent is maximized while increasing employee commitment and satisfaction.

This lasting bond will keep the team productive and more effective than ever before and projects can only succeed.

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remote team

6 strategies to lead a remote team (remote leader)

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing, many companies – rather than closing down completely – have been forced to implement remote working.

This poses a new challenge for all employees, but it becomes even more so in the case of project managers and those who are leading a remote team for the first time.

Not having your employees present in the same office and not having a face-to-face contact in an ever-changing market where priorities are constantly shifting, certainly becomes a major obstacle.

So let’s see what are the 6 strategies that a manager can adopt to lead a remote team.

6 leadership strategies to manage a virtual team

Many effective management practices with co-located teams can also be applied to virtual teams, but some important changes are still needed to address the unique challenges that a remote team entails.

Managers dealing with this new challenge should therefore consider these six strategies:

1. Keep all team members communicating closely

Creating a sense of teamwork is a key factor for the success of a project, especially when team members cannot interact directly with each other.

Regular communication between all is therefore essential to gather people together and promote a sense of inclusion, while at the same time providing continuous opportunities for input and feedback.

Whether it’s video conferencing, email, instant messaging or other methods of contact, team members need opportunities to participate, share ideas and results and continue to communicate smoothly with anyone from anywhere.

2. Maintain a supportive mindset

In a hierarchical organization, competition is often implicitly or directly fostered between individuals, departments and divisions.

In a time when employees are no longer close to their desks, the result could be a shift in mindset that causes the individual to be selfish and no longer focused on the good of the group, damaging the ability to work together for common goals.

This spirit of competition that reigns in every individual must be, even at a distance, kept at bay so as not to undermine teamwork.

The focus must be kept on promoting cooperation in which the interests, talents and skills of all team members are encouraged and emphasized.

3. Set out the purpose and objectives of the team

Remotely, it is difficult for employees who are not used to working in this way to understand their reason of being and their contribution to the organization in general.

Without this understanding, team members are unlikely to be fully involved and motivated at work.

It is therefore important that the manager should regularly remind them of their purpose towards the team and the company, especially when the virtual team members are working individually to perform certain tasks.

4. Define unambiguous performance standards

In the office, each team must meet certain performance standards and expectations and this becomes particularly important in remote work, where the manager cannot directly monitor and control employee behaviour.

This means that the leader must set clear parameters, suggest the sharing of best practices and define the standards against which everyone’s performance will be assessed.
lead a remot team

5. Adapt coaching strategies for managing distance

An effective coaching and support is a real challenge for the manager who needs to manage a virtual team.

A remote team leader must set individual and group expectations, monitor everyone’s progress and provide feedback, just as they would in the case of “traditional” office work.

Even remotely, the manager must schedule regular appointments to provide feedback to each team member, for example through a Skype video call – at a time like this, seeing each other, even if online, is surely important.

6. Celebrate achievements and successes

Feeling part of a team means not only working together, but being credited for sacrifices and achievements.

Virtual team leaders should not forget to reward team members for their outstanding performance or achievement, thus reinforcing the collaborative mindset we were talking about earlier.

Surely in this difficult time it is not possible to organize some office party, but the manager can still send a positive signal by sending a collective email to congratulate a successful project or, in the most important cases, send gift coupons as an incentive to maintain high performance.

 

By implementing these 6 straightforward strategies, leaders who have to manage a team remotely can overcome the barriers that could decrease performance at a time like this.

Because of the Coronavirus, many project managers are facing this challenge.

By working together in the proper way, however, it is possible to continue to create a competitive advantage in a global market that is currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis and where the rules of competition are constantly changing.

Already many organizations, even before the Coronavirus outbreak, have approached remote working and we are sure that, once the situation returns to normal, there will be many more companies that will officially introduce home working into their policy.

So, while managing a remote team is definitely a special challenge, this introduction – more or less forced as it may be – can be an enriching, rewarding and productive experience for the future.

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evaluate the team

Evaluating the work of the team

How is the team’s work assessed and measured? This may seem like a trivial question, but it’s not actually trivial at all.

Evaluating your team’s work correctly can be far easier than it might seem. Also, there is often talk of improving teamwork in an organization. A correct evaluation of the work done is definitely the first step towards this improvement.

It is quite obvious that evaluations can take place in many ways. An example of an approach consists, for instance, in measuring the team’s output: the hours invoiced, the units sold, the number of clients acquired or whether the team completes a project on time and within budget.

Keeping track of these actions is easy because they are concrete and you can see at a glance how the team is improving against basic performance.

Although sound, this approach can be a bit disappointing because it does not show who is doing what in the team and how members have worked together to achieve their goals.

In short, the numbers are not enough and it is much more efficient to add qualitative measures and assess the extent to which the team is demonstrating its key teamwork skills.

When to evaluate the team’s work

Team assessments provide more value to the team on some occasions than others.

Unfortunately, these assessments often tend to be carried out in search of a scapegoat after things went wrong.

Even though this is a perfectly legitimate reason for an evaluation, organizations can gain more benefit when they do not consider group evaluations as a response to difficulties.

Conducting evaluations before problems arise can avoid or mitigate them, potentially saving time and money.

Here are some great times and motivations to conduct an assessment of the team’s work:

  • Strengthening a team that’s struggling
  • To launch a new project in the best way
  • Helping a team to grow
  • When some team members are changed
  • Bonding teams and start-ups in remote team settings
  • Before a great strategic change
  • As part of team development to compare performance on a regular basis

Team assessments also offer value to established teams, especially when there is a change in the organizational context or when the team is preparing for a new project different from those carried out in the past.

8 steps to take to correctly evaluate your team

We wanted to create a checklist so that you can properly evaluate your team. Hopefully it will come in handy, let’s take a look at it together.

Knowing expectations and needs

First of all, you need to know what the expectations and needs of the organization in general are. These can be a variety of valuable objectives, such as streamlining internal processes, increasing sales, reducing staff turnover or improving employee morale.

Talking to team members

The project manager should spend some time talking to team members, first in groups and then individually, to learn about their feelings, concerns, goals and ambitions about their progress and obstacles in activities and roles as well as in the work environment in general.

Listening carefully

When the project manager talks to team members, they must also listen carefully. Sometimes you can read between the lines when an employee is trying to act diplomatic because they fear recrimination or even losing their job.

Identifying the challenges team members are facing

These challenges may be obvious and predictable factors, but project managers should also be aware that while some problems are internal to the organization, others occur in the employee’s private life and can also have consequences in the workplace, causing the person to become tired, irritable and stressed.

It is obvious that these factors must be taken into account when assessing the work of the team.

evaluation of the team

Ensure that existing procedures and systems are in place and actually work

Sometimes systems can be installed but do not work, making the team’s work more complicated than it should be. This can reduce productivity and increase levels of frustration.

Requesting external feedback

Ask for feedback from customers – where possible – or even suppliers about how they view the team’s work. This can be done either by anonymous survey or in other ways. Getting feedback from all stakeholders is an important measure that can help to assess the work of the team and to understand if the direction the organization is going in is the right one or not. However, it is worth remembering that it is impossible to win everyone’s approval.

Making the necessary changes and monitoring

It is no surprise to learn that a negative assessment of the team’s work is also caused by a lack of feedback, follow-up, leadership and monitoring from the manager. Therefore, the project manager must make sure that they are present before assessing – especially if negatively – the members of their team.

Creating a team evaluation process

In general, creating a process for the evaluation of the team’s work can make things clearer for both the project manager and the team members. Here are some examples of questions that might be included:

  • Does the person show up on time at work?
  • Is the person well prepared for the meetings?
  • Does they take responsibility or do they always find an excuse when things go wrong?
  • Do they focus on the needs of the team and not on their individual successes, failures or wants?

 

Clearly, it is crucial that team members receive feedback after the evaluation. Feedback is even more valuable when it is conducted with solid data.

Team evaluations help an organization to visualize and achieve broader results and objectives, making them an integral part of the evaluation process.

It is essential that the project manager avoid public criticism from team members at all times.

If negative feedback is needed, the person should be called separately to discuss the performance evaluation calmly and without pressure.

Moreover, the project manager should give feedback on how to improve and achieve the objectives by outlining, if necessary, a training or mentoring program.

Generally speaking, each team works differently, so it is important to choose evaluation methods that help prioritize results and areas for improvement that fit the overall business strategy.

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plesant working environment

Improve team efficiency by creating a pleasant working environment

Can the efficiency of a team be improved by creating a more pleasant working environment? The answer is yes!

Workplace happiness is based on several aspects and its perception may differ from one employee to another. A great leader, challenging projects, recognition and rewards, stability at work or a pleasant atmosphere, just to name a few, can play a different role and importance in each member’s mind.

As a project manager, creating an environment that brings out the best in team members is key to the success of the organization.

In fact, research shows that decommitted employees have:

  • 37% above average absenteeism,
  • 49% more accidents,
  • 60% more mistakes in work activities.

So it seems that not caring for the happiness of one’s employees can become costly. So let’s see what are the tips to improve the efficiency of the team by making the working environment pleasant.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Organizing team building events

Amusement leads to happiness.

Holding team building events where employees play together, laugh together and solve problems together contributes a lot to their happiness.

Team building events – if well planned – inspire people to stay in the workplace and even promote creativity.

Whether it’s an afternoon in an escape room or an adventure in the woods, team building events can be countless.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Greeting the team

It may seem like a small thing, but in reality, greeting employees means a lot in the workplace.

Team members want to feel regarded, so the manager can give them a little positive boost in the morning, greeting them warmly with a smile or a pat on the back.

Also, asking the team how the weekend or a particular event went helps a lot to deepen the bond and makes the work environment more “familiar”.

A project manager with an optimistic and genuine approach increases the team’s self-esteem, making each employee more motivated.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Praise and give recognition when necessary

Feeling undervalued at work is the first reason why an employee quits his job. This reason has even more serious repercussions than low wages, limited days off and poor work-life balance.

So here’s how offering praise and recognition when necessary will make the team enthusiastic and eager to contribute to company-wide initiatives.

A great project manager might ask team members how they prefer to be rewarded or complimented on a job well done.

For some, it could be a “public” recognition during a meeting, while for others, it could be an individual positive feedback session.

This recognition also shows that the project manager cares about the well-being of their employees.
create plesant working environment

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Making work satisfactory

Everyone wants to hear that what they do at work is important.

In order for team members to feel good about the work they are doing, they need to fully understand the mission and purpose of the organization.

Giving an overview of what each department does and why it does it allows team members to feel more connected to the organization and to understand where their part of the work fits into bringing a project to success.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Making work/life balance a priority

The concept of work-life balance has become a priority in many workplaces.

Team members must have a clear understanding that they are valued as loyal employees and as people who also have a life out of office.

The work-life balance can be improved by offering, for example, a few days of work from home, unlimited vacation days, discounts on health and wellness programs in facilities close to the company or childcare options.

Offering incentives that improve a team member’s overall quality of life shows that the organization and manager cares about their well-being.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Promoting well-being in the workplace

Whether it’s healthy food, exercise, meditation or awareness strategies, promoting well-being in the workplace is a great idea and therefore helps to increase productivity.

Many new wellness programs have been developed specifically to improve the work environment so that it is easier for employees to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.

It is possible to create a culture of well-being by implementing these strategies:

 

  • Prepare and share a list of healthy dining options within a predefined radius from the office.
  • Organize bike racks and provide information resources about the benefits of cycling to work.
  • Negotiate company discounts for memberships in wellness centers and gyms.
  • Hire a yoga instructor or meditation specialist to come to the office once a week or a month to help reduce team members’ stress.

Showing team members how important it is for them to have a healthy lifestyle is a way to show them how important they are to the organization.

Improving the efficiency of a Team:  Launch an individual development plan

An individual development plan is a mean to assist employees in their career and personal development.

Its main purpose is to help employees achieve short and long-term goals and improve their current work performance.

An individual development plan can be used to develop a better understanding of each team member’s professional and personal goals and objectives, including strengths and areas in which everyone wants to improve.

This shows employees that the organization is seriously investing in them as individuals and puts everyone on the same level to achieve personalized goals.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Use feedback as a mini-mentoring tool

Effective leaders understand the power of feedback and use it to offer constructive criticism and positive recognition, removing any doubts or negative thoughts of the employee and communicating how an individual’s behavior aligns with the company’s results.

Through feedback, a leader can drive an employee away unwanted behavior and cement positive thinking and behavior that leads to personal and professional excellence.

Feedback sessions should be two-way conversations in which the employee can ask questions and raise concerns. You can use this article on how to get feedback from the project team.

If team members are afraid to ask a question, this is a warning signal of a big problem.

It is therefore important that the manager makes sure to be transparent and open in his approach so that both sides get the most out of the “mini-mentoring” session.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Step out – from time to time – from the work routine

Just sitting at a desk in the office all day or chatting with clients for long periods of time, day after day, can undoubtedly become boring and routinary.

So the manager can surprise his team by holding the next meeting outside the company, perhaps in his favourite restaurant for lunch or in a meeting room in a building surrounded by greenery.

Also, many American companies have introduced the “Casual Friday. On this day, employees are not required to follow the normal dress code in the office and may freely wear Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops, shorts, etc.

This will make the team members extremely productive during the day, but also during the following working days, since they should be well rested, refreshed and more than ready to face projects with new vitality.

 

The working environment could also improve the efficiency of the team. There are many companies that have left it to their teams to decorate and make the look of their office to their liking.

To ensure that these implementations last for a long time and that they actually lead to an improvement in team efficiency, it is crucial that they are implemented regularly and become an integral part of the organization.

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project coordinator

The Project Coordinator

Project coordinators are individuals that project managers sometimes need for their project management.

There are already many articles that explain the work of a project manager and his responsibilities in detail, but let’s take a look at this article to better understand who is the project coordinator.

First of all, to get a general idea of where the project coordinator is in the general structure of the organization, it is important to map the different roles in project management.

The project coordinator is the person who reports to the project manager and is immediately in the next tier of the chain of command.

Project manager vs. Project coordinator

Whilst project managers and project coordinators usually work side by side, it is very important to differentiate these two roles.

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The project coordinator is in charge of collecting all the necessary information for the team and the project manager and distributing it correctly.

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Every information or update that the team needs should be easily accessible, thanks to the project coordinator, throughout the project lifecycle.

Meanwhile, it is the project manager’s duty to oversee the planning of the project until its completion.

In the end, the project coordinator is tasked with streamlining and simplifying some of the project manager’s functions in order to facilitate everyone’s work.

Quality of the project coordinator

A project coordinator will coordinate, needless to say, the project program, budget, issues and risks.

It is his job to make sure that the project is well organized and runs smoothly and this may include communication with various departments of the organization to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Project coordinators must stand out in a hectic and challenging work environment and be prepared to be the project manager’s right-hand man.

Furthermore, project coordinators may have experience and technical knowledge in specific areas and may be assigned to specific departments according to their qualifications.

There are many qualities that define a successful project coordinator; here are the most important ones:

  • Detail-oriented: attention to detail is essential when supervising many different aspects of the project, all of which are key to the successful completion of the project.
  • Reliability: the project manager will answer to the project coordinator to manage the small details of the project management and, therefore, it is essential that the project coordinator is reliable and does not work against the project manager’s guidelines.
  • Good communication: the project coordinator can be considered as a bridge connecting the project manager to various other project team members. Therefore, they must have above-average communication skills.
  • Productivity: The project requires productivity from the team working on it and this is particularly important in the case of the project coordinator. Coordinators are like the oil that makes the wheel of the project spin perfectly.
  • Self-sufficiency: The last thing a project manager needs is a project coordinator who does not follow the task assigned to them. The project coordinator must be highly self-sufficient and capable of self-organization.

the project coordinator

Education, training and certification of a project coordinator

A formal degree in project management is generally not required.

However, most employers do seek several years of experience in their specific field and, preferably, a degree or certification in that field as well as some experience in project work.

For example, a degree in communication, management and business management, economics or other similar fields may provide the required skills.

Employers are also looking for skills in IT, Microsoft Office and, preferably, project management software.

For those who would like to expand further, training courses are organized every year for future project coordinators.

Project coordinator responsibilities

Some project coordinator responsibilities include:

 

  • Ensure that teams have the necessary tools to run the project.
  • Create a project program, with milestones, expiry dates and estimates of required materials and resources, e.g. team members, which will be submitted to management for approval.
  • Help with the documentation of each stage of the project, as well as drafting brief reports.
  • Working “on field” with team members.
  • Keep the morale of team members high and build relationships with them to develop a solid unit.

 

In conclusion, a project coordinator must not only be familiar with a hectic environment, but must also embrace it.

There are many different tasks and qualities expected from a successful project coordinator.

As stated above, coordinators perform very important tasks throughout the life cycle of a project.

We are confident that in the future, the role of the project coordinator will further develop into a highly integrated management role with the project team and will eventually become responsible for more – and increasingly important – tasks during the project lifecycle.

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comparison of leadership models

Comparison of leadership models

Before we begin the discussion on the various leadership models, it is essential that leadership, as a concept in itself, is explained and defined.

There is a difference between leader development and leadership development. Leadership development takes place at the individual level and focuses on developing an individual’s ability to learn from experience to integrate it into the practice of leading an organization.

Unlike leader development, leadership development takes place at the organizational level and covers the entire organization by creating significant connections with stakeholders and other external resources.

The effects of leadership create an economic and competitive advantage for an organization.

In short, leadership development is a continuous, holistic process that occurs throughout the entire organization, while leadership development focuses on improving and developing the capabilities of the leader alone.

Let’s see some leadership models and compare them.

Leadership models: genuine leadership

A genuine leader is someone who is aware of their values and who acts and leads accordingly.

The genuine leadership model includes four factors:

  • Self-consciousness,
  • Relational transparency,
  • Balanced processing,
  • Morality

A genuine leader is someone with high self-awareness who understands their strengths and weaknesses and is aware of their impact on others.

Self-awareness means that the leader acquires self-awareness through interaction with others.

Relational transparency means that the leader is willing to communicate openly about their followers’ feelings and thoughts.

Balanced processing refers to the approach of using objective data to make final decisions.

Finally, morality allows the leader to self-regulate their behaviour by withstanding social and group pressures.

Leadership models: Situational leadership

Although this leadership model is popular and widely used in organizations, it has not actually been thoroughly explored.

Unlike genuine leadership, situational leadership emphasizes adaptation to the level of employee readiness to perform certain tasks, which depends on the willingness and competence of team members.

Therefore, as each employee differs in their availability and skills, the leader should adapt their leadership style accordingly.

The situational leadership model is structured in three situational factors:

  • The level of direction of the task by the leader,
  • The relationship between the leader and the employee,
  • The expertise and trust of the employee.

Leadership models: Servant leadership

This is a leadership model in which the leader should overcome their ego by addressing the needs of their employees.

As stated by the “servant leadership” concept, the needs of employees become more important than the needs of the leader and therefore the leader “serves” employees to help them achieve success and meet their personal and professional needs.

The servant leader can reach the point of self-sacrificing behavior for the sake of employee happiness and well-being.

Leadership models: holistic leadership

An emerging model of leadership is the holistic approach that takes multiple aspects into account.

According to Schein, the dynamic and changing lifecycle of organizations requires four leadership roles that will help the leader manage the complexity and dynamics of organizations.

These four elements are:

  • The role of animator, where the leader should convey energy and enthusiasm to his employees.
  • The capacity of the leader to build the organizational culture by hiring employees with similar ways of thinking and exhibiting behaviors in line with the values and cultural characteristics of the company.
  • The third role of the leader is to support culture, which means that the success of culture is preserved if change and growth are promoted. Therefore, leaders may need to adapt their leadership to the evolving identity of the organization..
  • The fourth role is the leader as a agent of change. Psychologically, leaders must possess the emotional stability to create a safe environment for employees during the change process in order to reduce anxiety and resistance to change.

In this model, leadership is not about being the individual at the top of the hierarchy and in control of subordinates, rather it is about promoting humanistic values and methods of practice.

The holistic view of leadership enables organizations to be better prepared to solve problems by considering the interconnection of external networks, the different opinions expressed and embracing complexity as a whole.

In short, the role of the holistic leader is not limited to guiding the organization internally, but also extends to various roles that facilitate complex problem solving and effective implementation and adaptation to change.

leadership models

Leadership models: charismatic leadership

A highly charismatic leader has a strong need to influence others, possesses a strong and firm belief in himself and his values, has the ability to inspire a high need for success in his employees, and has the capability to show competence through the articulation of potential rather than actual achievements.

The skill of the charismatic leader lies in imagining and inspiring employees and facilitating commitment by giving the impression that they – and the mission they follow – are extraordinary.

However, charisma as the only trait of leadership may not be enough to face a given situation adequately.

As a result, the charismatic trait of leadership can be treated as part of a leader, but not the only one.

Combination of multiple leadership models for greater success

Ultimately, best leadership practice derives from the synthesis of several positive aspects of different leadership models in order to maximize the effectiveness of each of them.

The best leadership effects can be achieved if the leader is open to different nuances and strengths of different leadership models instead of being limited to just one.

Furthermore, leadership practice should be collaborative and collective, facilitating mutual and 2-way communication because the leader can also learn from their team members or peers.

There are several situational and environmental factors of which the leader may not be aware but which others who collaborate with him or her are able to observe and share.

In these circumstances, it is very important that the leader is willing to listen to their employees and learn from their opinions to see reality with different perspectives.

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the talent management

Talent Management for a Project Manager

Knowing how to manage a talent, as long as you have it at your command, is not just a generic management of human resources.

Even when the project plan is drafted and sound, provided the project manager has the tools, technology, and time to complete the project, the key question remains: Does the project manager have the right talent and the right place to work on the project efficiently?

Effective project talent management begins even before the planning phases of a project, through selective recruitment, continuous training and career development.

Talent management should be conceived and regarded as a business strategy that will help the project manager retain exceptional employees.

For effective talent management, every aspect of recruiting, hiring and developing employees is addressed.

The ultimate goal must be to achieve a superior quality workforce.

What talent management implies

Talent management, if managed strategically, is driven by the mission, vision, values and objectives of the organization.

This allows each employee to see where their role fits into the organization and thus enables them to be involved in the overall management of the company.

From a strategic point of view, an effective talent management system helps employees to feel part of something bigger than their “simple” day-to-day business.

This management includes the following work processes:

  • Develop precise job descriptions so that you know the skills, abilities and experience needed for each role.
  • Use an appropriate selection process to select employees who have superior potential and fit the culture of the organization.
  • Negotiate requirements and performance standards based on rationally acceptable results.
  • Provide effective employee onboarding and ongoing training and development opportunities that meet both the employee’s needs and those of the organization.
  • Provide ongoing coaching, mentoring and feedback, so that the employee feels appreciated and important.
  • Hold regular meetings concerning service development planning focused on the interests of employees.
  • Develop effective compensation and recognition systems that reward people for their contributions.
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand why a talent has decided to quit the organization.

The three phases of talent management

Talent management approaches vary, however, there are three critical phases common to all organizations.

talent management

1. Talent identification and acquisition

It is increasingly difficult for organizations to find talent with the right combination of technique, leadership and strategic and business management skills.

However, without that particular talent, organizations risk not being able to ensure the proper implementation and completion of projects that are critical to achieving their objectives.

Once the skills needed for the role sought have been identified, talent can be found in two ways:

  • External recruitment
  • Internal recruitment

The potential to attract external talent and generate interest among internal candidates is often based on factors over which HR managers have little or no influence.

Being perceived as a first choice employer and the ability to offer a variety of interesting projects make an organization attractive to talents.

2. Talent development and preservation

Once the right talent is found, ensure that the skills are relevant to the company’s needs and that the employee remains interested in the organization are ongoing challenges.

Key areas to focus on to develop and retain talent include:

  • Support the effective mobility of resources from current assignments to the following opportunities.
  • Interlink career advancement processes.
  • Create extensive plans for progress beyond the boundaries of the organization.

Most organizations should pay attention to training and talent development.

It is therefore important that organizations, with the help of the project manager, set up a defined career and training path that allows them to develop the skills and competences of talents in their different areas of expertise.

3. Integration and transfer of talent knowledge

Project managers, human resources and business leaders will also benefit from the acquisition and sharing of knowledge.

Having a structured process to embed and transfer knowledge within an organization has a high positive impact on the success rate of projects and initiatives.

Organizational success is strongly correlated with both high maturity in talent management and the high level of matching between human resources, project managers and business leaders.

Research also supports the use of talent management strategies: in a study by the American Society for Training and Development in collaboration with The Institute for Corporate Productivity, the following practices have been identified as having a positive impact on talent management:

  • Standardize review and feedback processes.
  • Assign a sole functional owner – who can be the project manager – with regard to talent management.
  • Develop an organizational culture that supports talent management.
  • Ensure consistency between talent management activities.
  • Increase the visibility of talent management initiatives.

Bottom line, the project manager’s approaches to talent management may differ from organization to organization.

Through a more collaborative relationship between project managers, human resources and business leaders, it will be possible to gain more knowledge and information about project management and its critical connection to organizational goals, enabling more efficient and effective recruitment, retention and talent development.

As an organization is more experienced in talent management, the better it performs in executing projects that meet corporate objectives, drive strategic initiatives and improve financial performance.

Whatever the industry in which the organization operates, strategic change is driven through projects and programs.

Organizations that have the right talent and the right method of talent management undoubtedly have a critical capability that gives them an advantage over their competitors in the long run.

Finally, more and more organizations are considering talent management as an opportunity to distinguish themselves in the marketplace to gain a competitive advantage.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

negotiation skills in a project

The importance of negotiations in projects

Negotiating skills for a project manager are crucial and improving them will set the foundation for a successful project.

Project managers hold different roles at the same time: leaders, intermediaries, delegators and even negotiators.

This is why negotiation skills for project managers are on the list of soft skills they should develop.

What is the negotiation in a project

Negotiation is a process consisting of the activities necessary to resolve different types of disputes through consultations between the parties involved in order to reach a consensus.

Negotiations can take place at any time in the project lifecycle and may be formal or non-formal.

Formal negotiation implies an agreement through contracts and formal documents, while informal negotiations include debates to resolve a conflict between team members, for instance.

In project management, the negotiation process is divided into phases and include:

  • Planning: the preparation of all relevant information necessary for the discussion.
  • Debate: here the key issues are examined and discussed.
  • Proposal: the creation of the proposal as a way of solving the problem presented.
  • Revision: this can include negotiating compromises before an agreement is formalized and before the information is shared throughout the organization.

Why negotiation is important for project managers

Here are some situations where negotiating skills play a key role in the success of a project. Cases in which the project manager:

Ultimately, negotiating skills enable project managers to achieve stronger relationships with stakeholders, better relationships with clients and, in general, a more positive working environment.

Negotiating can also be a useful strategy for dealing with conflicts on a project.

While it is almost impossible to avoid conflict entirely, being able to negotiate the way around it is a useful skill.

In the most serious situations, conflict can also halt a project.
negotiation in a project

Improving project manager’s negotiating skills

Here are 5 tips that can help improve project manager’s negotiating skills.

1. Improving negotiating skills: Practice

The very first thing to do, as happens in all things, is to practice a lot.

Probably everyone negotiates more than they think – both in their professional life and in their private life.

It is therefore important to be aware of these negotiating situations, to analyse how you approach and deal with the moment, how you feel and what could be improved for the next time.

2. Improving negotiating skills: Preparation

It is important to spend some effort on preparation for negotiation.

If a project manager knows they are meeting a supplier, for example, they should think in advance about what they want to achieve from this agreement and explore potential alternatives.

This way you will engage in the discussion more confidently and know in advance what you want to achieve.

However, it is important to remember to remain receptive to other people’ points of view as well.

It is not a negotiation if you refuse to change your standpoint and force the other person to accept your ideas.

3. Improving negotiating skills: Manage your emotions

Conflict situations and negotiations often expose the worst in people.

It is therefore important for the project manager to be prepared for how they will react in a potentially difficult and perhaps embarrassing conversation.

4. Improving negotiating skills: Take your time

Negotiations can take a long time and be running on a continuous basis; it is unlikely that in a single meeting, everything will be discussed and resolved.

For large projects, multiple meetings could be held to ensure that everything is documented effectively and to the satisfaction of both parties.

And even when the agreement is concluded, the project manager may find himself negotiating more precise details or new terms to move the project in the right direction.

5. Improving negotiating skills: Listen

When preparing for a negotiation, you need to try your best to think about what you want to say, how to say it, how to reply to what you think the other person will say.

Simply put, a project manager must also be ready to listen.

Listening will help you identify the other party’s weaknesses and help you really understand what others want.

When you listen actively, you are more likely to formulate answers that the other person finds acceptable.

The importance of negotiating: conclusions

Ultimately, negotiation is an excellent project management tool and is critical to getting the best out of any situation.

Negotiation goes beyond reducing or increasing the price of an offer and is a necessary tool in the daily activities of the project manager.

Like all soft skills, knowing how to hold engaging conversations that translate into good results for both parties is something that can always be improved over time.

With the right knowledge, structures and techniques, any project manager will be able to approach negotiations knowing how best to target the project and the organization in general.

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lead a team successfully

Leading a team successfully

Leading a team successfully, being an efficient manager and a charismatic leader at the same time may seem an impossible task, however, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

To do so, one must be a steady landmark for team members, a beacon to be followed at all times with confidence and admiration.

How can this be done? Let’s see it in this article on how to lead a team successfully, in which we have summarized the 9 basic rules that can help us in the mission.

9 basic rules to lead a team successfully

As we have already said, being a Project Manager who successfully leads a team is not an easy goal to achieve, yet at the same time it is not pure utopia.

Let’s try together to consider the following 9 rules that can smooth the way to our desired success.

Rule #1 to successfully lead a team: Find a management strategy and stick to it

There is nothing worse than a project manager who keeps changing his opinions and methods according to his mood.

Chaotic decision-making increases a team’s uncertainty and frustration, so it’s better to find a strategy and stick to it.

If you find some new methods that the manager wants to apply, they should make sure that they do not conflict with the overall direction of the project. Also, why not ask for Feedback from the Team before applying them?

Rule #2 for successfully leading a team: Set goals and track progress

This may seem obvious, yet too often a project gets stuck between client requests and monthly reports, and the overall goal and vision just seems to fade away.

Setting and achieving goals will provide a clear view of the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress.

Over time, you will be able to see weaknesses and improve results.

Rule #3 for successfully leading a team: Promote training

The key to a fast-growing organization is to empower the personal and professional development of its employees.

The idea is that as the organization grows, so do people develop in their positions, which means they have to learn constantly.

So a good manager offers training courses for employees or encourages peer-to-peer learning by asking more specialized team members to teach their particular experience or skills to colleagues.

Rule #4 for successfully leading a team:  Invest in a pleasant working environment

Research shows that a well-designed office environment can increase overall team performance by up to 20%.

Even small internal changes that do not require large investments can improve employees’ performance.

Here are some ideas for a more productive and pleasant working environment:

  • Modern furniture, such as ergonomic chairs and desks.
  • In-house library: recreational reading, even for just 30 minutes a day, has proven sufficient to increase productivity in the office, improve concentration and address problems such as depression and anxiety.
  • Music at the office: rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic as they perform their daily activities.
  • Entertainments or break room: having the opportunity to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees to relax and clear their minds and increases productivity.
  • Living plants: they make the atmosphere more welcoming and it has also been observed that they guarantee better air quality, increasing workers’ productivity by 15%.

lead a team

Rule #5 for successfully leading a team: Be kind and honest with the team

Most of the time, when people quit their jobs, they do so mainly because of their manager.

Being friendly and honest might not be enough to be a successful project manager, but it is a key part.

Here are some ways to appreciate and care for the team:

  • Celebrate progress and achievements of team members.
  • Talk regularly with the team and listen to what everyone has to say and, if necessary, implement new ideas.
  • Don’t throw stress and anger at the team.
  • Try not to overload the team.
  • Don’t be selfish, i.e. the manager should focus on what’s good for the whole team, not just for himself.

Rule #6 for successfully leading a team:  Offer flexible working hours

The traditional working hours, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., are becoming less and less common.

Offering flexible hours or remote working is an effective way to inspire existing staff and give them more motivation. What matters is the final result.

Rule #7 for successfully leading a team:  Use only constructive criticism

Constructive criticism means offering rational and sound opinions about other people’s work, including both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved.

Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner.

When evaluating the work of the team, it is important to always give useful, specific and genuine feedback.

There is no need to be shy and merely praise, although a manager should also be direct and even harsh when necessary.

Rule #8 for successfully leading a team:  Don’t give yourself special treatment

The actions of the leader are followed, directly or indirectly, by the team.

This means that employees watch, observe and often emulate the manager’s attitude towards the work and the organization, especially if his actions do not show commitment.

In fact, no one wants to work for a leader who does not inspire motivation or looks like a slacker.

What a manager must do is therefore set an example: if, for example, they expect employees to arrive at work on time, it is important that they do the same.

Rule #9 for successfully leading a team:  Nurturing the corporate culture

Corporate culture is the personality of an organization that defines the working environment and relationships between team members and co-workers.

Corporate culture also includes corporate mission, values, ethics and objectives.

Whatever personality the organization has, it is imperative that the manager makes sure to embrace it, nurture it and pass it on to employees.

Here are a few things that might help in this regard:

  • Team building events.
  • Relevant books in the office library.
  • Proper initial training and coaching for new employees so that everyone is on the same page.

 

True leaders are hard to find, at any level of the organization… yet it’s not impossible to meet them.

Leaders show a unique blend of charisma, vision, and character traits that attract people to follow them.

That’s why for a leader who applies all 9 of the factors listed in this article, it becomes automatic to successfully manage a team.

Manage your projects at your best!

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the project resources

How to estimate the resources of a project

Knowing how to estimate the resources required to carry out a project is never the simplest of tasks.

Resources are people, equipment, places, money or anything else a project needs to be executed.

As a result, resources must be allocated for each activity on the to-do list.

Before you can assign resources to the project, however, you need to know their availability.

Some resources need to be scheduled in advance and may only be available at certain times or times – for example, a meeting room or a rented office.

It is therefore essential to know this before you can finish programming a project.

Resource estimation

The objective of the resource estimate is to allocate the necessary resources to each activity on the list.

There are five tools and techniques for estimating activity resources:

  • The judgement of experts: this means involving experts who have already performed this type of work before and obtaining opinions on what resources are needed.
  • Alternative analysis: this means considering different options on how to allocate resources. This includes changing the number of resources and the type of resources used. Many times, there is more than one way to perform a task, and alternative analysis helps you decide between different possibilities.
  • Published estimation data: something that project managers in many industries use to understand how many resources they need for a specific project. These are based on articles, research and studies that collect, analyze and publish data from other people and organizations’ projects.
  • Project management software: these often feature functions designed to help project managers estimate resource needs and constraints and find the best combination for the project in question.
  • The bottom-up estimate: this means splitting complex tasks into simpler tasks and processing the resources needed for each small step. The need or cost of the resources of the individual tasks is then added together to obtain a total estimate. The smaller and more detailed the task, the greater the accuracy of this technique.

In another article we already talked about project estimation techniques.

 Estimation of activities’ duration

Once you have finished estimating resources per activity, you have everything you need to understand how long it will take to complete each activity.

Estimating the duration of a task means starting with information about that specific task and then working with the project team to develop a time estimate.

Most of the time you will start with a rough estimate and then refine it.

When you talk about estimating project time, you may have already heard of effort. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check this article about effort and duration.

Here are the five tools and techniques to create more accurate durability estimates:

  • The evaluation of the experts that will come from the members of the project team who are familiar with the work that needs to be done.
  • The equivalent estimate, i.e. when looking at similar activities from previous projects and how much time they took.
  • Parametric Estimation, i.e. linking the project data into a formula that provides an estimation.
  • The three-point estimate, i.e. when three numbers come up: a realistic estimate that is more likely to occur, an optimistic estimate that represents the best scenario and a pessimistic estimate that represents the worst scenario. The final estimate is the weighted average of the three.
  • The Back-up Analysis, i.e. adding extra time to the program (called emergency reserve or buffer) to take account of additional risk.

Activity duration estimates are a quantitative measure usually expressed in hours, weeks, days or months.

Another thing to keep in mind when estimating activity duration is to determine the effort required.

Duration is the amount of time an activity takes, while effort is the total number of people-hours required.

If, for example, two people work a total of 6 hours (3 hours one and 3 hours the other) to complete an activity, the duration is six hours. However, if these two people worked the whole time (simultaneously, for 6 hours), the duration would be 12 hours.

Project planning and critical roadmap

The project program must be approved and signed by the stakeholders and functional managers.

This ensures that everyone is familiar with the program, including dates and resource commitments.

In addition, (written) confirmation will be required that resources will be available as indicated in the planning.

Once approved, the program will become the baseline for the rest of the project.

The progress of the project and the completion of activities will be monitored compared to project planning to determine if the project is running as planned.

A delay in any of the activities in the critical roadmap will delay the entire project.

project resources

Resource equalization

Resource equalization is used to examine and resolve the unequal use of resources, usually related to people or equipment, over time.

During the execution of project planning, the project manager will attempt to plan certain activities simultaneously.

As the project progresses, however, there are situations where more resources – such as equipment or people – may be needed than are available and planned.

The project manager will attempt to schedule certain tasks at the same time as the project is progressing.

When using project software, resource equalization can take place automatically, allowing the software to calculate delays and automatically update tasks.

The project manager offers several tools for the development of good quantitative information, based on numbers and measurements, such as project schedules, financial and budget reports, risk analysis and objective monitoring.

This quantitative information is essential to understand the current status and trends of a project.

Likewise important is the development of qualitative information, such as judgement made by team members.

In conclusion, regardless of project size or budget, estimating activities can be a challenging task.

To create a feasible budget, the project manager needs to know their team, results, activities, and processes in detail.

In addition, he or she should feel comfortable asking the correct questions to stakeholders.

Twproject can help you scheduling your resources, learn how!

research pm

Research project manager

Research project managers are in charge of conducting research and development projects that lead to the achievement of a business and/or scientific objective.

To achieve this goal, research project managers determine and manage the methodology and techniques for the development of the research itself.

Research project managers, in their field, are responsible for reviewing the work, validating the data collected, creating reports and communicating with the different constituencies and project teams.

Research project management

Specialized research project managers possess advanced program and project management skills, strong analytical skills and knowledge of discovery and development processes.

They are capable of coordinating and easing the life cycle of research project management, including the initiation, development, and implementation of various complex experimental projects.

Research PMs coordinate study teams and manage the timing of research projects to ensure that studies are completed within the specified time frame.

Research project managers also regularly meet with stakeholders, including their research team, clients and study groups, to assemble and communicate business and research requirements and set expectations for the work.

Qualifications and skills of a research project manager

A Bachelor’s degree is generally required to qualify for a research project manager position.

Many employers, however, at the time of selection prefer candidates with advanced academic qualifications, such as a specific master’s degree.

In addition, five to seven years of direct research experience is usually required, as well as proven expertise in project management, including budgeting, planning, execution, delivery, quality control (Deming cycle) and reporting.

Qualified candidates are proactive resolvers with planning skills, outstanding management and leadership.

They can communicate with relevant parties from different functional areas and can convey complex data in tangible business terms.

Here are the 11 best skills that every research project manager should have.

the research pm

The 11 best skills that every research project manager should have

There are definitely many more skills required, but if you have these 11, you will have the basis on which to build a successful career in managing research and development projects.

1. Leadership

A research project manager is in charge not only of following the project through to successful completion, but is responsible for leading a team to achieve this goal. This requires motivating and mediating when necessary.

2. Communication

Communication skills complement leadership. You cannot be an effective leader if you are unable to communicate with the team.

3. Planning

The only way to achieve the objectives of the project within the time period that has been decided is to divide this objective into activities on a time line. That is what planning is all about, and it is at the very heart of what a project manager does: setting up a realistic schedule and then managing resources to keep track of the route so that the project can be completed successfully and on time.

4. Risk management

Everything carries its potential risks and the planning of a project, whether simple or complex, is also related to a dose of risk. It is part of a project manager’s job to see these risks before they become real problems. Therefore, before you execute the project, you must try to identify, assess, and control the risk.

5. Cost management

You can’t do anything without money. One of the first tasks assigned to the research project manager is therefore to make sure that the budget is realistic and able to meet the financial needs of the project and, secondly, to monitor these costs during the project life cycle.

6. Negotiation

Negotiation does not simply mean contracting the best price from a supplier; managing a project means being in constant negotiations. A project manager must negotiate with stakeholders, team members or other people involved in the project.

7. Critical thinking

Many of us do not think, but rather react and follow a series of automatic responses, learned throughout life. In general it does not necessarily mean that this is bad, but in certain situations it is better to know how to disable this mechanism and activate critical thinking. Critical thinking is simply being as objective as possible in analyzing and evaluating a problem or situation, so that we can form an impartial judgment.

8. Activity management

If planning is the foundation of project management, activities are what compose it. There will be many activities to create, assign and manage, which means that poor management of this process can severely affect the success of the project.

9. Quality management

Quality management is often neglected by project managers and requires the greatest attention. Quality management must oversee the activities necessary to create a product or service worthy of the level required by the client. Adhering to the time frame is important, but a project is useless if it produces something that is sub-standard.

10. Patience

Nothing gets sorted out when you’re in a hurry or when frustration takes over in case of unforeseen circumstances. Projects take time, from research to planning, and must be carefully designed to run smoothly. That doesn’t mean there won’t be problems: whether it’s a change request or a team member acting negatively, if you don’t have patience to handle things, the result will be worse.

11. Ready for innovation

Technology evolves constantly; as soon as you get used to one tool, another takes its place. In order to keep up with the times, you need to constantly learn and train, so that you can follow the path of a successful project manager. Especially in the field of research and development, there is nothing more truthful than that.

 

So here are the responsibilities and skills required in the case of a research project manager.

These do not differ much from what is required for a “traditional” project manager, but obviously the scope will be more specific.

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Functional managers in a project: how to involve them and why

Functional Managers do not always get taken into account in the realization of a project. These managers are generally seen as an additional cost rather than an investment. However, this is not the case!

In many organizations, teams are made up of so many members from so many different departments that it is often impossible for a single project manager to take care and “know” everything.

Actually, however, many companies are pleased to have just one project manager who coordinates the entire team and initiates a series of projects destined, for this reason, to fail right from the start.

It is evident that the number of roles required to achieve specific objectives depends on the size of the organization and the size of the project, but you should stop expecting the project manager to be the only person who can handle the management of large project teams.

The project manager, no matter how good and experienced they are, there are situations in which they cannot manage everything on their own. This is where functional managers come into play.

Even if the initial cost due to the introduction of functional managers will be higher (you will have to pay one or more people at managerial level), the company’s managers must consider the management benefits that will result from this investment.

Anyway, what is a functional manager?

functional manager is an individual who holds the management authority of an organizational unit, such as a department, within a company, company, or organization, and whose role serves to successfully complete processes.

The functional manager can be, for example, the head of Marketing or Logistics, Technical Department, or Administration.

The critical role of the functional manager is:

  • To review and approve the project plan for the specific area it addresses.
  • To offer people the opportunity to be members of the project team.
  • To provide guidance, as and when requested, to the team members of the department concerned.
  • To revise the project schedule if necessary.
  • To remove obstacles for the project team.
  • To provide team members with the time required to complete the project successfully, as defined in the approved project plan.
  • To ensure that the people in the department working on the project have an adequate level of skills and know-how to perform the work.

The role of the functional manager is, therefore, essential to execute complex projects flawlessly.

The substantial contribution of functional managers is also to try to show their team members how to solve problems by providing the appropriate methods and tools.

functional manager

What are the responsibilities of a functional manager?

  • Communicate any changes in the availability of their resources to the project/program manager.
  • Keep track of the status of the project/program and understand the impacts on their resources and areas of responsibility.
  • Help the project/program manager to deliver leadership and get the buy-in.
  • Evaluate the overall effectiveness and quality of the results.
  • Ensure the improved performance of their function and effective cross-functional integration.
  • Be involved in the project/program decision-making process relevant to the impact on the tasks for which it is responsible.
  • Communicate with the project/program manager any changes to the project that affect the quality or scope of the end result.
  • Ensure that the specific requirements of your sector for the output to be produced are communicated and understood.
  • Take part in the risk analysis of the project and problem management, whenever required.
  • Ensure that the time of their resources is not excessively unbalanced between the work needed for the project and any other “routine” activities.
  • Decide which resources to allocate to the project, ensuring that the funds allotted possess the suitable skills required for the project or have the ability to acquire such skills.
  • Understand the work required of its resources for the project and any new skills they may learn as a result of the project work.
  • Ensuring that funds are available for the project as initially promised and agreed upon.
  • Manage any resource performance issues that the project/program manager may encounter and report.

Integration between functional manager and project manager

In an organization, often initial resistance to the idea of having more than one manager (especially for budget reasons) arises.

However, the advantages of having functional managers who can actually spend time with the team pay off.

Good integration between functional manager and project manager can only produce benefits from all perspectives, both for the project and for the organization in general.

What is essential is that the team has clear in mind, which are the roles of one and the other and that the communication is transparent and unambiguous.

In fact, the functional manager is able to recognize whether a specific activity related to his department and experience, can provide (or not) added value to the project. This is why the functional manager has the ability to help the project manager recognize when the project team is wasting time and resources.

In general, therefore, the presence of functional managers and project managers will not only improve the performance of the project team but also enhance the morale and commitment of each individual team member.

The project manager will recognize the specific skills of the functional manager, while the functional manager will acknowledge the skills and coordination skills of the project manager.

The right tool for managers

Problems with the team – identifying and neutralizing a toxic (negative/damaging) member

Problems with the Team can be a daily occurrence for a Project Manager. Finding and retaining valuable employees is critical, but identifying and dealing with so-called “toxic” employees is vital to the team’s compactness.

We all know that there are characters you can’t stand. We met at school, at university, or work.

If hired, employees are expected to bring value to an organization, but what toxic employees (i.e., employees with personalities that are not tolerated by the remaining team members) bring is just annoyance and problems that quickly affect the success of the project and the organization.

Human resources and top managers should be able to detect toxic behavior and take immediate action to prevent chaos. If not neutralized in time, these elements could even lead to the destruction of the corporate culture.

The different kinds of toxic members

Here are some signs of a toxic employee within the team and some suggestions on how to handle the situation.

Toxic members: The gossiper

It is undoubtedly a good sign if employees develop friendly relationships and get along well with each other.

An open communication culture should be encouraged; however, office gossip can lead to a significant reduction in productivity if it exceeds the limit.

Gossips are everywhere: chatting by the coffee machine, walking around during lunchtime, always trying to find exciting office “stories.”

This type of employee becomes toxic when they become hyper-focused on collecting funny stories and gossip rather than working.

In addition, excessive gossip and unfounded rumors can create drama among employees.

To avoid this, you need to make sure that employees have enough time to interact with each other during lunch or social events after work.

This way, they should remain more focused on work during regular office hours.

If however, this behavior persists, you will have to talk to those directly concerned and, in the most severe cases, act accordingly.

Toxic members: The one who always says yes

This is a rather tricky case to identify. As such, an employee does not seem to cause many problems, on the contrary.

However, you might notice that an individual team member always agrees at the end of every discussion and meeting, without ever bringing anything new.

If an employee behaves like this and never asks questions, this may be an indicator that they are not willing to learn.

These people make the least effort to do precisely what is expected of them and nothing more. They will wait for detailed instructions without any initiative.

In these cases, you need to talk to them to find out the reasons for their lack of motivation.

Toxic members: The procrastinator

In a world where employees use the internet daily for their work or even have to stay in touch with customers and suppliers on social media, from time to time, there may be distracted a bit.

However, when these distractions stop being quick and innocent, problems arise.

If the employee begins to miss deadlines or perform poor quality work, action must be taken.

Stricter deadlines and more demanding tasks can be the solution and, not to forget, positive words if a project is successfully completed.

Getting recognition on a regular basis ensures that employees are more committed to their work and perform better.

Toxic members: The apology maker

This kind of employee is similar to the procrastinator, as they both try to stay away from work, but the apology maker is definitely more creative as he always seeks justification for his delay.

Other “symptoms” include high absenteeism, low energy, and lack of motivation.

You can identify these employees with unscheduled visits, requesting regular reports, and making them personally responsible for specific tasks.
the toxic member

Toxic members: The narcissist

A narcissistic employee is usually an excellent interpreter but does not seem to recognize the value of a strong team.

This person prefers to work independently and may even go so far as to underestimate the work of colleagues.

The organization, however, needs the collaboration of the team to achieve challenging goals.

For this, you need to promote your team’s successes and support group projects, recognize the team’s efforts to demonstrate that each member’s input is essential.

Toxic members: The grumpy

It is quite ordinary to have a colleague grumbling on Monday morning, but when this becomes a habit, it is probably a toxic person.

These are the employees who are always complaining about everything – whether there is a real reason or not: from a broken coffee machine to a low-speed Internet connection; these people don’t seem to be satisfied with anything and, as a result, create negativity in the team.

In such cases, it is a good idea to compare people and ask what is causing their dissatisfaction. Is there anything that can be done to improve the work area, which would actually be beneficial for everyone?

Listening to reasonable complaints can lead to progress, but complaining just for the sake of it is something that cannot be accepted for too long.

Toxic members: The “I-know-it-all”

In our lives, we have all come across a person who believes they know everything, both personally and professionally.

These people usually have an answer for everything and will not accept or listen to another point of view.

Employees who show this kind of behavior are toxic because they don’t want to receive feedback.

So how will they perform better if they refuse to incorporate constructive criticism into their work?

In this case, training sessions for this type of employee can be envisaged in order to broaden their knowledge.

 

Ultimately, having a toxic employee on the team is more expensive in the long term than having a not fully trained employee.

Toxic behavior affects the whole team and prevents them from working efficiently.

Yet firing toxic employees is not always the best approach; in most cases, it is possible to eliminate toxic behavior and retain the worker.

People are not always aware of their behavior.

In general, once a toxic employee has been identified, the first solution is always to have a personal discussion with them and try to understand the reasons for this negative behavior and act accordingly.

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how to become agile coach

Become an agile coach to lead companies to success

The role of Agile Coach was born in the IT (Information Technology) sector. Still, now it is very sought after in other industries because organizations see the advantages of agile work.

So if you are in the field of program/project management and you are looking for a new and exciting role, becoming an Agile Coach is a great opportunity to bring your career to the next level.

All large organizations now require projects to be delivered faster and more effectively than in the past, as they meet market and consumer changes.

Employing an Agile Coach for a project helps everyone to focus on the main objectives, test, learn and quickly achieve output rather than following the traditional Waterfall style (link to the Waterfall article) of the project management.

Goals of an Agile Coach

As an Agile Coach, you can create your Work Team and motivate the team to achieve high performance imparting Agile methodologies through open communication and group collaboration.

The Agile Coach ensures that the team works as effectively as possible and has a different role from that of the project manager, whose task is to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their position.

An Agile Coach must possess a combination of project management experience and leadership skills, as well as being skilled communicators, facilitators, and good at identifying different solutions to problems through the understanding of organizational development.

In short, the main objective of any Agile Coach is to monitor the activities of a team and the technologies they are considering.

In addition, they must be able to promote and incorporate Agile practices in order to make teams work faster and more efficiently.

It is essential to understand that the role of an Agile Coach is of a transitory nature and may not be required for the entire project period.

Auto-coaching is, therefore, one of the most important lessons to teach a team. This will ensure that the team can work with its own strengths and comfortably perform crucial tasks without relying too much on the coach.

What are the responsibilities of an Agile Coach?

Here are the responsibilities required for an Agile Coach:

  • Practical expert: a coach has to be more practical at the outset when individuals are not sure where and how to start with the new agile methodology. A functional expert will directly lead and implement the Agile methods and instruct teams and organizations accordingly.
  • Coach: an Agile coach is just like a coach. Everyone can solve their problems and adopt a new methodology with the help of a guide to understand how. A good coach gives people the tools they need to grow on their own.
  • Teacher: if the person or group lacks information, the agile coach fills these gaps and imparts new knowledge.
  • Technical consultant: an agile coach must be familiar with the sector in which the organization fits in so as to help the team, in case of a technical block, to overcome the obstacle by following the new methodology.
  • Counsellor: active listening is crucial to any Agile Coach. A coach in this role creates a safe environment where, for example, tensions related to the adoption of Agile practices can emerge in a free and honest discussion.
  • Facilitator: instead of giving defined answers and solutions, an agile coach helps team members discover them for themselves. The role of the facilitator also helps in conflict resolution and improving group dynamics.
  • Observer: this skill of the agile coach can provide valuable external perspectives that team members may not have recognized before, guiding them to new knowledge and revelations.

become agile coach

What does an Agile Coach do?

The work of an Agile Coach can be divided into five areas:

1. Catalyzing improvement

Adopting the Agile methodology means changing an organization’s processes and responding better to future changes. An Agile Coach must initiate this first and most significant change and help all staff to accept it.

2. Promoting awareness

To start change, an Agile Coach must educate the team about the need for change and create buy-ins within the organization. Open questions, charts, data, and metrics can help identify problems and gaps and ensure that the whole team is aligned.

3. Increase involvement

If an Agile Coach successfully promotes awareness, this can lead people towards greater participation in the organization and their role. Knowledge increases responsibility and commitment to finding a solution and helps staff to be part of and want change.

4. Developing skills

One of the critical activities of an Agile Coach is imparting knowledge. The creation of a collaborative learning environment and the promotion of emerging learning cultures are the keys to maintaining an Agile approach long after the end of the partnership with the coach.

5. Removing barriers

As a company turns into an Agile organization, the process can face many hindrances and challenges. The responsibility of an Agile Coach is, therefore, to remove obstacles and facilitate change so that an organization can continue to grow and collaborate smoothly.

What skills should an Agile Coach possess?

An Agile coach needs a wide range of skills and expertise to assist teams and organizations in change successfully. Among them, we find:

  • Mentoring, teaching, and training skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Ability to influence: Agile coaches can face resistance, so they must be able to use their influence to show the power of the Agile methodology.
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Devotion
  • Technical mastery
  • Corporate expertise
  • Strategic and organizational skills.

 

An Agile Coach helps teams and people to adopt Agile practices and methods in their work, making it more efficient, transparent, and cohesive and allowing the achievement of better results, solutions, and products or services.

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stakeholder register

The project stakeholder register

What is the project stakeholder register, and what is it used for? We will see it in this article.

What is certainly undeniable is that no project can be successful if the stakeholders are not happy. Stakeholder satisfaction is essential for the successful completion of the project.

According to the PMBOK Guide, “An interested party may be a person, group, or organization that may be interested or have some interest in the project or the results of the project, directly or indirectly. ”

The stakeholders are all the parties involved in the project. Therefore, to manage project stakeholders, it is essential to have a register for this purpose.

What is a project stakeholder register?

project stakeholder register is a project-related document that includes all the information about the project’s stakeholders.

This document identifies the people, groups, and organizations that have an interest in the work, the project, and its results.

The following information can be found in a stakeholder register:

  • Names
  • Titles
  • Roles
  • Interests
  • Requirements
  • Expectations
  • Type of influence

It is essential to create the stakeholder register when the sponsor signs the project paper, and, at this stage, stakeholders are identified and analyzed and, consequently, a strategy can be created to manage them.

This document will help the project manager to complete the project smoothly.

The content of the project stakeholder register

You can categorize the information in the stakeholder register into three areas:

  • Stakeholder identification
  • Stakeholder evaluation
  • Stakeholder classification

If a stakeholder management strategy is then included, this will be the fourth category.

In a large organization, the stakeholder management strategy can be a separate document.

However, in a smaller organization, this information can be included directly in the stakeholder register.
the stakeholder register

Stakeholder identification

Generally speaking, the project’s stakeholders fall into three categories:

1. Organizational Stakeholders

These are the stakeholders within the organization and usually include senior management, technical management, and line managers, who are generally focused on a successful project and a successful product on the market. This type of stakeholder also includes the project team itself, which is interested in job security, fair wages, and career advancement.

2. Product and market-based stakeholders

This category contains stakeholders who have an “interest” in the product, though not in the organization. This category includes customers interested in purchasing a product that improves their lives at a fair price and also contains suppliers who provide tools, equipment, and services to carry out the project successfully. This category also contains governments that have a regulatory interest in the product and want to protect the public from the negative consequences of using the product. And finally, the general public is also included here, even if they are not stakeholders until they experience the outcome of the project.

3. Financing-based Stakeholders

The third group of stakeholders in the financial person or organization that supports the project. Investors, creditors, and banks that have financed the project are interested in achieving a return on investment within a reasonable time frame.

 

Each of these stakeholders should, therefore, be recorded, complete with contact details, job descriptions, position in the organizational structure, level of authority, and role in the project.

In short, effective stakeholder management requires the project manager to know who has the ability to influence the project so that quick decisions can be made in case of problems.

Stakeholder evaluation

In most cases, stakeholders have a definite “interest” in the project, e.g., a regulatory agency requiring an environmental assessment before issuing permits.

However, this is not always so immediate; often, stakeholders have minor requirements that only arise when they are not met.

Each stakeholder should be evaluated on what their requirements are.

In addition, each stakeholder has expectations about how the project will proceed, and its actions are governed by those expectations that may not be visible until they are met.

Furthermore, stakeholders have various levels of influence: from providing simple feedback to the complete shutdown of a project.

Each stakeholder has a different power over the project, and the project manager should assess where each stakeholder’s continuum is located.

Obviously, stakeholders who can shut down the project need to get proportionately more attention from the project manager.

Stakeholders also enter the project at different stages of the project life cycle. This is why the project stakeholder register must be updated regularly.

In short, in this part of the stakeholder register, stakeholders will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Their requirements
  • Their communication needs
  • Their expectations
  • Their influence on the project
  • Their interest and power

This part, if duly filled in, will help the project manager to complete the project with a minimal setback.

Stakeholder classification

Stakeholders can be classified in different ways.

One of these is internal or external stakeholders, which can be used to determine contractual and procurement requirements.

Internal stakeholders are stakeholders that are within the leading organization, for example, the project team, technical managers, or managers.

External stakeholders are outside the parent organization, e.g., suppliers and regulatory agencies.

Another method of classifying stakeholders is called impact/influence and is used to determine the potential negative impacts of the project. In this classification:

  • The effect is the extent of the possible interruption of the project.
  • Influence is the ability to motivate others to stop the project.
  • Those with leverage must be kept satisfied.
  • Those with impact must be kept informed.
  • Those that have both impact and influence need to be managed very carefully.

Another classification is as follows and is an excellent way to distinguish between the types of communication required by each stakeholder.

In this classification model, each stakeholder is classified into one of the following four types of classification:

  • “Upward” is related to the core organization: executives, investors, and sponsors of the project. These stakeholders hold commercial and financial interests in the project.
  • “Downward” are the stakeholders below the project hierarchy: suppliers, contractors, service providers, and so on. The project team itself also counts as a descendant.
  • “Outwardly” are stakeholders who have an “interest” in the project, such as government regulators, adjacent landowners, end-users, customers, and even the general public.
  • “Laterally” are stakeholders who are in competition with the project due to scarce resources, such as other project managers and organizational departments.

Stakeholder analysis and management strategy

After completing the stakeholder classification, the stakeholder management strategy is developed.

This will help the project manager to manage them according to their needs, influence, and interest in the project.

A more influential stakeholder will require a different strategy than another stakeholder with a lower level of influence.

The stakeholder register may contain confidential information, and not everyone may be allowed access to this document. Therefore, it is crucial to keep this document in a safe place.

However, many organizations do not restrict access to the stakeholder register, in which case a separate stakeholder strategy document can be created and kept in a safe place.

As the project progresses, new stakeholders will be identified, and their attributes may also change.

This is why it is crucial to keep the register up-to-date throughout the life cycle of the project.

Stakeholder management, therefore, plays a vital role in the success of a project.

Inadequate management of project stakeholders, especially those with high power and interest, can even lead to project failure.

Therefore, project teams and the project manager must perform timely and accurate stakeholder analysis, ranking, and prioritization, considering the ability of stakeholders to influence the project.

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stress and pm

Stress management and Project Management: how to manage stress in crucial moments of the project

The job of a Project Manager is undoubtedly one of the most stressful, as this position is directly responsible for the success or failure of a project.

Some project managers believe they can handle and deal with the high level of stress, making mistakes, and some even ignore or refuse to recognize that they are stressed.

The stress experience for a Project Manager not only impacts cognitive and behavioural performance, but can also have a negative impact on personal health, well-being and family life.

It is difficult to be able to change the amount of stress one can experience on a daily basis, but it is possible to change the way one deals with it.

It is important to be able to manage stress before it becomes increasingly difficult to cope with.

Sources of stress in project management

Just imagine: The project’s due date is in 2 weeks and there are still some critical issues to be resolved. To make matters worse, one of the key members of your team has been hospitalized. The client is not satisfied and the management requests a daily review. And this is just a tiny example of the many scenarios that a project manager can experience every day.

The sources of stress in project management can be many and different.

Here are some of the most common sources:

  • Unrealistic chronology and schedules
  • Working in a system and organizational structure where project management does not exert full control over resources
  • Lack of resources – human and/or instrumental
  • Proliferation of virtual teams and intercultural influences that are difficult to manage
  • Dispute between groups in the organization
  • Project environment

A project manager’s first step must be to recognize that he is under stress and then develop self-discipline before learning and practicing what are the techniques for dealing with stress.

Learning to successfully manage stress begins with a willingness to take an honest look within ourselves.

Techniques for managing stress in project management

Many techniques can help to manage stress. No technique is unique to everyone and no technique will be able to completely eliminate stress. Each person has to decide what will work best for himself or herself.

This suggests that techniques should be explored to determine what works best for us and, once you find some strategies that work, the commitment to practice them is the key to dealing with stress.

Having understood this concept let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used techniques to lower stress levels.

Stress management techniques: Detachment or disassociation

Let’s look at the example of a meeting where the project manager is extremely frustrated and considers it all as wasted time.

In this case you can use detachment or dissociation, mentally “controlling” the meeting, letting your mind wander towards a more enjoyable image.

It’s a technique that may seem nonsensical, but manages, instead, to relieve stress effectively.

stress and the pm

Stress management techniques: Monitoring the “what if” thinking

During a stressful event or meeting, it is natural to end up in the “what if thinking”, where one wonders “What if we had done this in the past, could we not be struggling right now?”

As is evident, this form of thinking implies a focus that is not geared towards the present.

An alternative to this form of thinking is to focus on the present by asking yourself this question, for example: “It’s Thursday, it’s 3:17 p.m., I just received bad news about the project. What can I do in the next hour to take a small step towards improving the situation?”

Basically, don’t focus on how we got there, but on what to do to get out of it, even with the smallest of steps.

Stress management techniques: Developing strong conflict resolution skills

Additional stress is added to working life when reacting to a stressful situation by avoiding or denying it. The same is true when you overreact to a stressful situation.

Both approaches increase the level of stress.

For this reason, it is important to develop the ability to resolve conflicts, possibly by following a special training course.

Stress management techniques: Knowing when it’s enough

Knowing when enough is enough and staying away from debates is a powerful solution to some situations of high stress.

A natural but often unproductive approach to solving a situation is to discuss with another person the sense and reason for one’s point of view. These situations are strong sources of stress.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t assert your beliefs, but you should know when to stop.

If you continue to want to try to be perceived as “right”, you are just increasing the level of stress and you are wasting useful energy.

Stress management techniques: Look for a paradoxical component of the situation

In the midst of a situation that is rightfully stressful, you may find that you’re taking yourself, or the situation, too seriously.

Behavioural psychologists would say that we are engaging in a “catastrophic” behavior, in which we take a singular and negative event, and we find ourselves believing, for example, that the entire project is condemned because of this serious problem.

An antidote to this way of doing and thinking is to find a paradoxical cognition to cling to, something that will put stress and worries into perspective.

Other useful techniques for stress management

  • Priority: create a hierarchy of priorities and assign each activity according to its urgency and importance. Focusing primarily on urgent and important tasks and not overwhelming yourself by worrying about the whole workload.
  • Avoid extreme reactions: why hate when it comes to a little distaste? Why generate anxiety when you can be “just” nervous? Why be depressed when you can simply be “just” sad?
  • NLP implementation – Neuro-Linguistic Programming – for reducing stress: NLP provides a variety of excellent tools and concepts to enable individuals to deal with or change negative stress into positive resources. With NLP you can change overwhelming and immobilizing feelings into powerful motivating drives.
  • Physical exercise: take a break and plan some physical activities, whether it’s jogging, cycling, hiking or other outdoor activities to relieve stress.
  • Meditation: Meditation and breathing exercises have proven to be very effective in controlling stress.

Stress Management: conclusion

Finally, we can say that there are various ways for a Project Manager to reduce stress. Each of these ways can bring benefits and everyone needs to test them to understand which ones are best suited to them.

It is obvious that success in stress management does not only depend on the type of technique used, but it is also the commitment of the person applying the techniques that makes the difference.

The same strategy may not work for everyone.

You have to take an honest look at yourself and determine what is most practical and what makes most sense for you.

Engaging and striving seriously to reduce stress can improve your happiness and health. That’s why it’s worth trying.

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shareholder vs stakeholder differences

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder: in what they are different and why it is important to not confuse them

In a company there are shareholders and stakeholders. Both have invested something, however, they are separate entities.

Although they have similar names, their investment and role in an organization is fairly different and it is critical to not confuse them.

Shareholders are always also stakeholders in a company, although stakeholders are not always necessarily shareholders.

A shareholder owns a share in a public company, while a stakeholder shares an interest in the performance of an organization for reasons beyond the performance or value of the shares.

This means that both parties share a common interest: the organization must be successful in the long term.

The shareholder is an individual who has invested money in the organization by purchasing shares in the company itself. The reach of the stakeholder is wider. Stakeholders represent, in a nutshell, the entire micro-environment of the company and not just the shareholders.

While the shareholder owns a share of the organization and thus pays the price for it, and is therefore partly owner of the company, the stakeholders are not the owners of the company, rather they are the parties who take care of the company.

We take a look at all the key and specific differences between stakeholders and shareholders in this article.

Definition of shareholder

All companies raise their own capital from the market by issuing shares to the public.

The shareholder is therefore the person who buys these shares of the company from the primary or secondary market, thereby obtaining part of the legal ownership in the capital of the company.

A share certificate is issued to each individual shareholder for the number of shares he holds.

The simple subscription of shares does not constitute ownership of the shares. One only becomes the owner when the shares are actually allotted.

A shareholder is therefore any party – a physical person, a company or an institution – that owns at least one share in an organization. So, the shareholder owns a financial interest in its profitability.

If the company’s share price increases, the value for shareholders also increases, while if the company has a poor return and the price of its shares decreases, the value for shareholders decreases. It is clear that this trend is not trivial for a shareholder.

Definition of stakeholder

Stakeholders are the parties involved in helping the organization to exist. Without the stakeholders, the organization cannot survive for long.

According to the traditional governance model, the management of the company is only accountable to shareholders. Nowadays, this scenario has completely changed and is no longer believable.

Many organizations, in fact, believe that, in addition to shareholders, there are many other components in the corporate environment and that management is also their responsibility.

A stakeholder is a party that has an interest in the success of the company and can affect or be affected by the policies and objectives of the organization.

Stakeholders can be internal or external. Internal stakeholders have a direct relationship with the company through employment, ownership or investment. Internal stakeholder examples may include employees, shareholders and management.

External stakeholders, on the other hand, are individuals who do not have a direct relationship with the organization but can still be influenced by the actions and manoeuvres of that company. Examples of external stakeholders include suppliers, creditors, communities and public groups.
shareholder vs stakeholder

Key differences between stakeholders and shareholders

Below are the differences between stakeholders and shareholders in detail:

  • Shareholders own the company because they have purchased financial shares issued by the company. On the contrary, stakeholders are those who influence or are influenced by the company’s policies and objectives.
  • Shareholders are part of the stakeholders. It can also be said that shareholders are stakeholders, but stakeholders are not necessarily shareholders of the company.
  • Shareholders focus on the return on their investment in the company. On the other hand, stakeholders focus on the performance, profitability and liquidity of the company.
  • The scope of stakeholders is relatively broader compared to that of shareholders because there are other elements in addition to shareholders.
  • We can only find shareholders in the case of public limited companies. However, every company or organization has its own stakeholders, whether it is a government agency, a non-profit organization, a partnership or a sole proprietorship.

Conclusion

It is thus clear that stakeholders and shareholders are terms that refer to different roles.

Stakeholder and shareholder have different points of view depending on their interest in the company.

Shareholders expect the company’s management to carry out activities that have a positive effect on the prices and performance of the shares and on the value of their dividends to shareholders. Furthermore, they would like the company to focus on expansion, i.e. acquisitions, mergers and other activities that could increase the company’s profitability and overall financial health.

On the other hand, stakeholders focus on the longevity of the organization and better quality of service. For instance, an organization’s employees may be interested in better wages and salaries, rather than higher profitability. Suppliers may be interested in timely payments for goods delivered to the company, as well as better rates for their products and services. Customers would be interested in receiving better customer service and purchasing high quality products.

Many organizations have therefore begun to accept the fact that, in addition to shareholders, the company is also responsible for many other components of its business environment.

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pm collaborating with team

Collaboration with the team: The advantages for the PM

Collaboration during a project is a method by which teams and project managers plan, coordinate, and monitor the project on which they are working.

In practice, the entire success of managing a project is based on group collaboration.

Collaboration means two or more people working together to achieve a goal. Generally, this ends with the creation of a product or service, but this collaboration process can also go beyond the departmental and even company boundaries.

With the increasing preponderance of remote work teams and the movement of data on cloud servers, the collaboration, which is always the basis of team work, it has become even more a watchword in project management.

The importance of collaboration

As mentioned above, the collaboration refers to two or more people working together to solve a problem and / or achieve a certain goal.

This may seem like a concept equivalent to that of “team work“, but there are actually considerable differences between the two.

Typically, a team is a group of people with similar skills who regularly work together with a person who makes key decisions, while in collaboration they bring together people with different skills and experiences to solve a problem or work towards a certain goal.

All the subjects involved are therefore united for a common goal and the authority is shared.

Collaboration takes place in teams, however, simply putting together a team does not mean that everyone will collaborate effectively.

The increasingly frantic global economy drives organizations to do more with less and respond quickly to customer requests.

Organizations need cross-functional teams to innovate and improve processes in order to remain agile.

These needs are met, in part, by the huge availability of collaboration tools in the market. Thanks to project management software such as TWproject,  for example, teams can chat, share, and co-edit documents, assign jobs, create reports, automate tasks using flows work at any time, from anywhere.

Collaboration is part of the digital revolution and these new tools simplify it.

Collaboration and Project Management

When applied to project management, collaboration involves bringing together a team of different departments, offices, organizations, and even countries to complete a project.

Each team member has only a part of the information and skills necessary to perform the work for a project. They must rely on the collective experiences, skills, and knowledge within the team to fill the gaps.

Completing a project requires different skills and experiences, provided by a cross-functional team that in general does not work together every day.

Collaboration is also important for new project managers and inexperienced team members.

These people rely on the skills and experience of the team to contribute successfully to the project.

The emphasis on the collaboration of the project team reflects the structure of many companies that are becoming less and less hierarchical and that see a greater interaction between departments.

If collaboration is the essence of modern project management, ineffective collaboration or lack of collaboration can undermine the project.
collaborating with the team

What are the advantages of collaboration for the PM?

Collaboration allows, in short, to be better than the sum of the individual parts.

Here are some of the advantages of a good collaboration for the project manager:

  • Increased productivity: Distributing activities to team members who have the time and skills to complete them, rather than overloading a team member with too much work and neglecting others.
  • Better problem resolution: Giving team members the autonomy to work together to solve problems offers more ways to success, as well as building team loyalty and morale.
  • Better communication: Communication lines need constant care or a wrong direction can deviate a project. Collaboration facilitates clear communication and provides a solution to communicate effectively also in case of remote teams.
  • Reduction of general expenses: One of the biggest costs of any organization is the rent or purchase of a physical space in which everyone can work. However, with collaboration, team members do not need to be in the same place.
  • Promotion of human resources: By promoting collaboration among team members, not only it is possible to build strong relationships, but also to create loyalty that helps retain employees.

How to improve collaboration in a project team

The advantages of collaboration in project management are therefore clear, but implementing them can be difficult, especially when managing remote teams.

Here are some tips to increase collaboration within an organization:

  • Communication: Every good project manager knows that good communication is the foundation of everything, especially to establish a collaborative environment. Not only is it necessary for the project manager to communicate correctly and frequently, but also to convince the team to do so.
  • Orientation and training: In order to learn something new, a training session is always necessary and, at times, also a reference figure to who expose doubts and questions is needed. In the case where, for example, a new project management software is installed, it is necessary to organize a training session for the team in order to start an effective and fruitful collaboration.
  • Change: Old habits are often hard to die, but it is necessary to get the team away from old methods that are no longer effective for the project.
  • Sharing: A healthy and positive collaboration will not be possible unless the virtual walls that separated team members in the past are knocked down.
  • Monitoring: When a project is run and a plan is not set, the project will be destined to fail. The same applies to the implementation of the collaboration. This is why it is necessary to monitor and hold regular meetings with the team in order to answer questions and keep track of their progress.

Bringing people together to work collectively and foster collaboration is no longer a choice, but a necessity for any project-based activity.

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importance of feedback

How and why to get feedback from the project team

Getting feedback from the project team is one of the things that seem most obvious for a project manager, but that can be very difficult.

It is a task of the project manager to support and challenge the team, so that together they can achieve the expected results.

To do this effectively, however, the project manager needs to know if he is supporting and challenging the project team in the right way or if, despite his good intentions, he is unwillingly holding it back.

A project manager must know what he does well, so that he can continue to do it, but he must also understand his weaknesses in order to correct them. In short … the project manager needs feedback. How to get it then?

First, if a project manager wants to receive feedback from the project team, he must focus on the actions he can take to receive it.

The tactics that we will illustrate in this article will help the project manager increase the chances of receiving the much desired feedback from his project team.

Exit interviews and feedback

Usually, companies rely on employee exit interviews to get information on a manager’s effectiveness. But what is the use of understanding how an employee feels about his manager when he has already decided to leave the company?

Although it is not too late for the manager to hear this feedback, it is still too late to use it in the proper way.

Quality feedback should help the project manager to work better with his team, improve leadership style, and make sure that he is aware of the problems before they become serious and dangerous for the project. Gathering interviews only when the collaborators leave the organization, although not completely useless, makes little sense.

How to get feedback from the team: Ask specific questions

Have you asked the project team specifically for feedback lately? In fact, there is a big difference between thinking that you want to receive a feedback and asking it directly.

Adopting an “open door policy” is often not sufficient and it is necessary to ask the team directly for feedback.

Moreover, it is not optimal to ask for generic things like “Do you have any feedback for me?”. This is a vague request and it is difficult to know what the person really wants to know without specifying a context.

Instead, it is good practice to ask for a feedback and ask specific questions such as:

  • How could we organize our team meetings in order for them to be more effective?
  • Would you like more or less direction / support from me during your work?
  • What could I do to make your job more enjoyable?
  • Do you think your ideas are considered by the team? And by me as a project manager?

With specific and targeted questions, it is easier to receive an honest feedback.

How to get feedback from the team: Be grateful and accept feedback – especially if negative

Think of the last time you provided someone with a strong and potentially negative feedback. Did the person immediately accept it? Or did he argue and try to say it was not true?

Any person who receives a rather negative feedback may be slightly on the defensive at first, but if the attitude is really extreme, to the point of not accepting feedback, answering badly, and even being offended, you will probably think twice before providing a feedback again.

Same thing applies in the case of the project manager! If he remains defensive towards the feedback team, it is not surprising that in the future the team members will hesitate to provide further feedback.

If a team member is giving a feedback, see it as a gift.

This means that the person cares a lot about sharing his point of view, so that things can improve for both.

It is undeniable that some pills are more difficult to ingest than others, but it does not change the fact that the final intent is to help.

The next time you receive feedback from a team member, try this approach to make sure you continue to receive constructive feedback:

  • Take a break and thank for the feedback before saying anything else.
  • Ask the person to share a recent situation that is linked to the feedback, in order to contextualize it.
  • Ask for clarifications to make sure you understand the essence of the feedback.
  • Discuss possible solutions or changes or, if the behaviour cannot be changed, explain why.

Receiving feedback is not always a pleasant experience. However, with a little practice and an open mind, it is possible to make the project team more peaceful when providing feedback.

This inevitably makes employees more likely to give more feedback in the future.
feedback from team

How to get feedback from the team: Act

When the project manager receives feedback from his team, his work has just begun.

The team has indeed shared feedback with the project manager, because they want to see things change. Otherwise, why would they worry about sharing it?

If a fact is so important that it is worthy of feedback to the project manager, it is something the team wants to see changing. And if this progress is not shown, it will certainly be discouraging for them.

A project manager who does nothing with the feedback he receives is unlikely to get more feedback in the future, or have a long-term committed team.

For this, it is necessary to transform the feedback into action.

When getting feedback, the project manager should take a few minutes to discuss the next steps.

This action gives the team members the feeling of being heard and helps them understand what progress could be made in relation to their feedback.

Each situation will be slightly different, in general there are three possible feedback scenarios:

  • The project manager changes something: his actions will positively confirm the team’s courage to give feedback.
  • The project team changes something: the project manager helps the team create the type of organization they want to work for.
  • The project manager explains why that particular behaviour cannot be changed: when something cannot be changed, it is necessary for the project manager to help the team understand why the situation must remain the way it is and must create empathy.

How to get feedback from the team: Use reciprocity

Are you giving – as a project manager – your feedback to the team? Are you taking actions that you would like to be reproduced by the group as well?

It is important in this case to know the power of reciprocity. Reciprocity lies deep in the psyche of human beings.

A small example: if you give someone a gift or do something for a person, this person will feel indebted to you and will therefore be more inclined to return the favour or do something else requested by you with a similar value.

Reciprocity prevails over feelings.

Even if you don’t have a good relationship with all the team members, reciprocity can still help you get more feedback.

As Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” By changing the concept of “country” with that of “team” in the context of project management, we have the definition of reciprocity.

How to get feedback from the team: Give the example

There is nothing more important than the example that a project manager, as a leader, gives to the team.

In fact, the project team observes daily what the project manager does, and his actions are even more relevant than his words.

If the project manager wants feedback to be a fundamental part of his team’s culture and habits, then he must learn to give the right example to follow.

Here are some ways to do it:

  • Provide feedback and praise to the team: as discussed above, it is important to create a situation of reciprocity.
  • Hold a reflection meeting on the project: when a major problem occurs or a project ends, it is important to take time to meet with the team to talk about what went well or wrong and what to do differently next time. It is a great way to make everyone focused on improvement.
  • Take responsibility for your own mistakes: if the project manager shows that the feedback is appreciated and that this brings a change, the team members are more likely to do the same when it comes to them. If a project manager is open to constructively criticizing himself, this automatically makes the entire team more open.

Receiving constructive feedback may not always be easy, especially when it comes from employees.

However, feedback can provide very useful information about the expectations of team members, about things that need to be improved in the workplace, and how employees perceive their manager.

Following the advice we have listed in this article, will help you encourage team members to feel comfortable when providing constructive feedback.

Read more about Twproject bootcamps.

One try is worth a million words.
Communicate with the project team

Communicate with the project team: the best techniques to use

A good communication with team is the main method for excellent project management. In fact, effective communication allows a project to have a successful conclusion, but on the other hand, bad communication could be fatal.

The project teams are in a constant state of communication: e-mails, videoconferences, phone calls, messages, face-to-face discussions, and non-verbal interactions.

Whatever the type of media used, project teams can increase the chances of reaching goals if the right communication strategies are developed and if everyone is kept informed about what is happening.

Here are some suggestions for the project manager in order to communicate effectively with the team during the project.

Adopt an “open door” policy

An “open door” policy allows anyone to ask questions and expose concerns and ideas at any time.

This is an important part of building trust within the team. Knowing that it is possible to ask questions about any concern is a great motivation for team members. It makes them feel important and an integral part of the project.

Another suggestion is not only to “open the door” figuratively, but also literally. Removing physical obstacles between employees creates a sense of mutual trust and encourages an open exchange of ideas.

Be open to mutual feedback

Nobody is perfect, so we all need a feedback from time to time.

A criticism or feedback is useful when it is constructive and, to be effective, it must be clear and detailed.

And we must not forget that feedback or criticism, whatever it may be, must be accepted and processed by the person who receives it. A good Project Manager must be ready to carefully examine the feedback received from the team and to take, where necessary, the right measures and / or corrections.

Be clear about the activities so that everyone knows his responsibility

No one can complete an activity if he is not sure what his responsibilities are.

For a project manager, it is essential to make sure that the whole team knows the purpose of the project and that each individual has a clear idea of what exactly is expected of him. In this a RACI matrix can be very useful.

Bringing the team together regularly in order to monitor progress, ask questions, and tackle any problem is another effective way to keep everyone on track. Make sure all team members are aware of their responsibilities within the project.

Do fun things to boost morale

Team building exercises have long been used to improve communication between team members.

In addition to organizing role-plays or other workplace activities, it is also possible to organize a dinner (for example once a month).

The goal is to create socialization among team members. When colleagues are comfortable with each other, they communicate better.

The feeling of having a second family at work makes people more willing to work harder towards a common goal.

Give a purpose to coffee breaks

coffee break
Linked to the previous point and team building: a coffee break allows everyone to interact informally while still in the workplace.

Coffee is the fuel that allows most people to “survive” during working days, so why not make it enjoyable and productive at the same time?

Communication training courses

This can be very effective for improving group communication.

Communication-focused training is not just about basic conversation skills but, depending on the course, it could include presentation skills, writing skills, and training on managerial skills.

Decide which form of communication works best

Different situations require different ways of communication.

For a project that involves team members working remotely, for example, a video conference is an excellent way to keep in touch and exchange information on progress and goals.

For projects with an internal team, face-to-face meetings are often the best method of communication.

In short, depending on the type of project and team, the most efficient form of communication could be different. Therefore, it is important to choose it well.

Use project management software for greater transparency

Project management software enables transparency across the team, giving the possibility to monitor progress, collaborate with other members, and check details and deadlines.

With a simplified system, everyone has access to project specifications and can leave comments that others can see. Moreover, a chat inside the software, will greatly facilitate the communication between members.

Identify group leaders

In most project teams, there may be several leaders (below the project manager) who coordinate team subgroups.

It is important to make clear from the start who those leaders are, let the team members, but also the project manager himself, know exactly who to contact in case of problems or questions.

This process distributes work more equitably among leaders and reduces stress on individual team members.

Understanding diversity problems

When people of different nationalities, ideologies, and languages collaborate, the ideas that come from them can create something really special.

But diversity does not come without its challenges: accents, dialects, and cultural dialogues can sometimes lead to confuse communication and create misunderstandings.

To avoid these difficulties, team leaders, together with the project manager, must work on a strategy to minimize these problems.

Identify the strengths of each individual

Not all people like to communicate in the same way.

Visual people, for example, tend to prefer written forms of communication, such as e-mail or software, whereas other type of people benefit more from a phone call, video chat, or face-to-face meetings.

Taking note of the fact that everyone is different and prefers a different form of communication, not only does it improve the spread of information, but it allows us to recognize people as individuals and not as mere numbers.

Be open and honest with team members

Perhaps the most effective way to improve interpersonal communication in the workplace is to spread a sense of trust among team members.

Transparency is the key. If team members feel that some information is kept secret, any trust that has built up over time goes away.

Obviously, some sensitive information must be kept secret, but when it comes to something related to team members, they have the right to know.

The project manager must therefore be open and honest with them and ask them to do the same.

Mutual trust is important in every relationship, including professional relationships.

Take advantage of mobile devices

mobile devices

Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone or other mobile device connected to the network.

So why not take advantage of the opportunities that technological progress gives us?

Some software solutions for project management, for example, can offer an app for project managers and team members, with which it is possible to stay up to date on project developments in real time. In Twproject, for example, you can use the chat.

Make an anonymous survey

In many workplaces, it can be difficult for team members to always be honest.

In order to understand the needs and concerns of the team, a solution can be that of an anonymous survey.

In this way, it will be possible to collect all the concerns that are not directly communicated and find out possible problems that the project manager could not know.

People are more likely to be honest if they know their opinions are and will remain anonymous.

Take responsibility for errors

The best managers are those who assume their responsibilities, even – and above all – when it comes to errors.

Everyone makes mistakes, so by confessing his own fault, a project manager will show to be a human just like his employees.

Using these suggestions, you can bring the team together, improve communication and, in general, make the workplace a better place.

These factors lead to an improvement in the quality of the project, better control over the budget, and greater customer satisfaction.

When the workplace becomes a second home and colleagues become a second family, this cohesion translates into maximum team productivity.

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