Copyright to Constantine Kortesis © 2013
Published here April 2014.

Editor's Note | Introduction | Turnaround Management Constraints 
Incorporating Team Building | Case in Point

Incorporating Team Building

To Mario's remarks, we added:

"You mention that 'all too often, the businesses and projects do not set aside enough time for team members and project leaders to get to know each other' probably because the 'time' is not available or the exercise is not considered of sufficient value. However, I am not clear on what you consider is the best solution in the circumstances. Could you expand a little?"

Thanks for asking. Teaching a civilian to jump out of an airplane with a parachute takes a few hours of training. In military jump school, the training lasts for several weeks. Part of the reason that the military training takes much longer is that military trainees are not just learning how to jump with a 'chute. They spend time with each other, learning how to perform as a team and how to help each other when complications or accidents occur. Military leaders have known this for generations and have scheduled the time necessary for the "group interaction" especially under adverse conditions.

When Project Managers are in a position to assemble their project teams and to establish the work breakdown structures (WBS) and schedules, they can also establish team-building meetings, events and exercises, along with getting the financial budgets to pay for them. On many projects, the project sponsors (or project clients) do not consider such activities as being pertinent. Many project sponsors try to squeeze costs and schedules. This is especially true when the sponsors are "financial types" who don't understand the nature of the work that the project must do to accomplish the "tangible" elements of the WBS.

In my personal experience, the problems of "penny pinching" typically come from some middle managers that are unwilling to confront their executives regarding cost and timing. It's easier to attempt to intimidate the PMs. PMs must not cave in to such tactics. The PMBOK tells us how to succeed. Identify the stakeholders, identify the requirements and objectives, identify the elements of the WBS to address the requirements/objectives, and then establish cost/timing estimates.

The Project Manager may include the "team development" elements into the WBS, or the PM may include additional time and money for each and every element of the WBS that may require teamwork. Either way, the PM can actively encourage team building and team communications and social interaction between the team members. Unfortunately, when sponsors are squeezing, it is all too easy for some PMs to be intimidated into compressing schedules, reducing budget and skipping "non-critical" tasks such as team building. This is a huge mistake that military leaders understand and will fight to prevent.

PM's should think of themselves as military leaders responsible not only for accomplishing their formal objectives but also as being responsible for the health, welfare and individual success of their team members. The personal needs and personalities of the individual team members have direct impacts upon the team and the project. That impact may be subtle, or significant. It may be positive or catastrophic.

Wealthy corporate executives know all of this. They spend time on golf courses, exclusive country clubs, "business" resorts, yachts, private aircraft, mountain lodges, fishing & hunting lodges, usually at company expense. They call it "networking" and sometime "complain" about how much time it takes, even when they bring their spouses in tow. Members of Congress do this at taxpayers' expense, or from "campaign funds" boosted by "lobbyists".

Turnaround Management Constraints  Turnaround Management Constraints

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