I wish project teams worked well together from Day 1 but experience shows this isn’t the case. At all, some of the time. Here are 6 behaviours to watch out for in your project team and some things that you can do to manage these behaviours and attitudes before they start to cause problems on your team.
Arrogance is a dangerous trait because it is directly attributable to missing risks. If you feel that you are untouchable and you have everything you need on your project, then you aren’t going to be on the lookout for that one risk that will knock your whole project over.
Watch out for arrogance in your team members (and yourself). It’s easy enough to spot because people start to feel as if the rules don’t apply to them, that ‘nothing will go wrong’, that they have everything under control and they show excessive confidence. Of course, there is nothing wrong with confidence as long as it is built on fact and is constantly reassessed as the project environment changes.
Complacency is similar to arrogance in that people stop questioning what is going on. There is a general sense of smugness that the individual’s work in on track. They are happy in their work and secure in the ‘knowledge’ that nothing is going wrong. This also leads to a lack of critical analysis of the work in hand and a full appreciation of the project risks.
Who on your project team is really busy, all the time? I hope it isn’t you! I’ve met a number of people over the years who come across as constantly busy. They are always complaining about how little time they have to do anything and how busy they are. I think it makes them feel important: after all, if they have so much work to do it’s because they are a resource in demand.
In reality, busyness hides a lack of progress. I’ve often found that the people who talk the most about being so terribly busy are the ones that turn in work late and to a poor quality. They don’t make progress because they flap about telling everyone how much work they have.
Unfortunately people don’t always recognise this in themselves. You may have to help them (as soon as you know they suffer from chronic busyness) in being more organised. Work with them on their priorities. Make sure they know what they should be spending their time on and which tasks can be dropped. Help them put together a to do list and work through it, making sure that they focus on the essential stuff that moves the project forward before working on lower importance tasks.
Many people can overcome chronic busyness if they get the right support, but left unchecked all it means for your project is shoddy deliverables and a team who never have enough time to do what you ask of them.
Busy people don’t deliver because they have too many things on their mind and are constantly working on the wrong thing. They certainly don’t lack for effort or motivation and in fact many of them enjoy the constant state of being so busy. Disorganized people aren’t like that: they don’t necessarily care that they spent all day making little progress because they couldn’t find the right files and then they forgot their password and spent another hour on the phone to tech support trying to sort it out.
It’s easy enough to help a busy person refocus and they’ll probably even be grateful that you have helped them achieve even more in their day. A disorganised person, though – that’s a different problem to tackle. You can help them prepare a to do list and set priorities but they probably won’t have the discipline to stick to them. Micromanaging isn’t the best option but unless you can trust them to get their project tasks done it might be your best bet of helping them through their to do list.
For some project team resource members, the issue is that they just don’t care. Their work is shoddy, the quality is poor and they don’t seem to mind at all. Carelessness leads to poor quality and rework which increases the project timescales and costs. Even if they don’t care, the project sponsor certainly will.
Set clear quality targets and don’t let them get away with turning in poor or low quality work. Make sure you provide specific milestones for review as well – don’t wait to check the quality until the very end of the task as you’ll only have to build in time for the rework.
Perhaps buddy up the careless person with someone who does take the time to do their work to a high standard. The other thing you can do is reiterate why they are doing the tasks they are doing. It may be that they simply don’t understand the impact of their careless work on other people or the project overall. Taking the time to explain the impact of rework and the cost of poor quality may help them up their game going forward. Get their tasks on to the project plan software so they don’t have the excuse of not knowing when their work is due.
Is closedness a word? My spellchecker doesn’t think so. What I mean is a culture that doesn’t promote sharing. A sharing culture means that lessons learned get disseminated and where there is little if any blame attributed for mistakes. A closed culture means people do not share the information they have available to them. Knowledge is seen as power.
This is a dangerous environment to work in because you rarely have all the facts and trying to find someone who can share them with you is difficult. People feel that because they are an expert they hold a privileged position and therefore their job is more secure. In reality, people don’t know what they know so I wouldn’t say that they were any more secure in their positions than anyone else – perhaps less so. A closed project culture will impede your ability to get things done, so watch out if you notice this in your environment.