Today, we will talk about the subject of how to lead a team, and how to motivate the team in process of a project in order to achieve the project’s objectives.
Leading a team becomes a basic competence of a qualified project manager. In nowaday project, individualistic heroism has not been praised since decades ago. An excellent project team requires not only an excellent project manager as leader, but also a bunch of excellent and cooperated people as members. Only in this way the project can be finished excellently. Therefore, an important duty of project manager is to motivate project team members and fully exploit their strengths. The goal is to the project team operates efficiently and stably.
1 I was tired as a new project manager
I worked for my company for many years, and became an excellent technical expert. When I became project manager several months ago, I was ignorant of project management. Arrogant was what would describe me once I had a little power on my hand. But as the project progressed, I faced several serious issues when it came to team management.
First, several colleagues of mine, who entered the company in the same year as I did, were not motivated. Due to the fact that having the same experience and technical level as mine, once being assigned with the project work, they would choose whatever is to their personal advantage, or even worse, work passively, which made my job as project manager really hard.
Second, there had been severe estrangements between clients and other functional teams, and between functional teams and project teams, which made the project enslaved of multiple parties of stakeholders. This issue lead to the project falling behind schedule.
Last issue, which cause my mental and physical exhaustion, is that I had to deal a lot of things by myself everyday. There were countless meetings everyday which I need to attend. And even worse, I had to deal with some very specific coding tasks.
Although the project was finished and all deliverables were accepted by clients at the end, but during the entire project, the project team was not as efficient and cooperative as I thought it would be. Even some functional teams were critical of the project team. The worst thing is that I felt exhausted leading that project. That was very far from my original understanding of being in charge of a project as project manager.
2 Four conclusions of self-examination
After self-examination and self-refection of my first project, I was indeed not a qualified project manager, and failed to make use of the project resource and management method. Even though I had some experienced colleagues as team members, but I failed to facilitate them to form a powerful group to achieve the project objective. On the contrary, I, as project manager, had done many works which ought to be done by team members. What I had done involved with almost every aspects of the project.
In conclusion, I had made some mistakes which are very common for new project manager:
First, in the initial phase of the project, without clear understanding of project management objective, I thought the most important thing of the entire process is to finish the project. But what really matters is that there is a huge difference between being team members and being a project manager. Many management works are actually more important then technical works.
Second, during the project, I was always pushing the team members to do their job by giving them orders. I was using a uniform method to deal with all team members and relevant stakeholders. That was not a good way of managing because it neglects the individuation of human being.
Third, I always did the technical works by myself just because I thought my technical competence was good. But what I neglected was the management competence. What I really need was to convert to be a real manager, a leader. Once a wise man said: “Being a real leader means letting others work for you, not doing all the works by yourself. Otherwise, the team members would not have their own sense of presence, and you would certainly feel mentally and physically exhausted.
Fourth, during the project I neglected the importance of many stakeholders and teams which were relative to the project. Letting the project team develop a strained relation with all these stakeholders and teams was not wise. Because that created some serious barriers for the project and the project team.
3 What should a qualified project manager possess?
In PMBOK 6th edition, a capability model of qualified project manager is raised. The model is called “The PMI Talent Triangle”, which is demonstrated in the following figure.
As shown in the figure, the talent triangle focuses on three key skill sets: Technical project management. The knowledge, skills, and behaviors related to specific domains of project, program, and portfolio management.
Leadership. The knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to guide, motivate, and direct a team, to help an organization achieve its business goals.
Strategic and business management. The knowledge of and expertise in the industry and organization that enhanced performance and better delivers business outcomes.
Based on the understanding and application of the talent triangle, today I am able to pay more attention on the factor of people and how they affect the project for my work of project management. That means a qualified project manager does not only have to direct the team to accomplish the project scope, but more importantly, have to spend more time on communicating and dealing with people, such as motivating the project team members and helping them with their career development, and so forth.
For example, when the project team achieve a small goal (like, accomplishing a milestone), as project manager I have to reward and recognize their accomplishment. Meanwhile, I still need to point out the defects and make suggestions for their future improvement.
Remember, as project managers, our service object is project team, not project sponsor. During the project, we also have to improve collaboration between project team and other stakeholders and relevant groups.