Zvika Bash's Tips on Managing Teams
HF: Could you share some examples of difficult situations in managing people and how you overcame them?
ZB: When people working on a project come from different companies they may not feel obligated to the project or to the end customer. This lack of responsibility to traditional reporting structures can cause participants to be less engaged, overprice tasks and feel irresponsible for schedules.
To create a connection between people, the project and the customer we put an emphasis on the following activities:
- Team building - this creates a pleasant organizational atmosphere. We have weekly breakfast meetings to share project updates, celebrate birthdays and personal events. We also do team building events out of the office.
- Organizing frequent meetings with senior staff - to emphasize how the project contributes to the organization as a whole.
- Personal meetings with the customer - I do my best to encourage as much direct interaction as possible between the staff and the customer. Those meetings dramatically improve the success of finding the best solution for the real needs of the customer. In addition, it increases the staff's motivation and improves the work process.
- Listening to people - and finding a solution to their individual needs. I make an effort to understand and help my team members, which in turn increases their personal commitment towards me. No one wants to disappoint a supportive stakeholder.
- Planning ahead - planning ahead and for the long-term gives people stability and lets them know that there could be a few more obstacles ahead. Planning also prevents employment insecurity - when employees feel comfortable and secure in their roles, they don't feel the need to search for different projects or other jobs.
- Technological challenges - it is important to combine projects that are technologically challenging and give people the opportunity to improve work processes. Challenges motivate employees to find technological solutions in their respective areas.
HF: Could you share the practical tool that you use the most to lead your teams?
ZB: We use different methods in the project to lead the teams:
- The most important management tool that we use is the Gantt chart using MS-Project. By using this system we can separate the tasks and their deadlines, easily analyze burdens and map the critical paths. We constantly monitor progress and expected tasks by comparing them to the staff's available workdays in the project.
- To manage the project's development progress we use an SAP standard tool called Solution Manager. This tool allows us to document developing features and to manage the status of each development. This tool performs intercommunication of the progress of each development. Supervising the development is performed using the data produced from the tool.
- The testing phase is strictly managed by using HP Quality Center. We analyze the defects and monitor them frequently in a daily meeting lead by me. The ability of the tool to analyze the mishaps upgrades the ability to understand the systems status and the decision making process.
HF: How do you instill customer service wisdom in employees who interact with the customer?
ZB: In order to improve customer service we use several guidelines:
- Organizational Culture and giving an emphasis on good customer service.
- Training course for the counselors and for the service dispatchers including a motivation course to improve good customer service.
- Assigning service dispatchers to become engaged at customer sites. This creates a positive relationship between frontline workers and service dispatchers.
HF: How would your team members describe your leadership style?
ZB: My leadership style is categorized in several aspects:
- I support creating a positive staff environment (in soccer they call it "locker room environment"). I absolutely believe that a positive environment amongst the staff contributes to the growth of the individual whilst gaining a much greater product from the whole than just the sum of the team's parts.
- I include all of the different group heads in the decision making process. This participation enables people to express their professional position and helps them connect to the solution and to be more committed to the success of the project.
- Planning, order and organization - projects are organized well with documentation of meetings, characterizations and a clear work plan. These are the tools that help achieve success in the project and reflect to the staff that this is serious and fulfilling work.
- Good connections with the customer- convey to the staff that it is important to understand the difficulties that the customer is facing. Understanding the customer's perspective enables the team to develop the best possible solution.