By doing so, project managers can
get their team members “on the same
page and define what everyone means
by respectful behavior, as well as a clear
process for how issues will be resolved,”
Lesson Three: Break out the
Lessons on effective listening and group
brainstorming sessions often get tense.
Project professionals can lighten the
mood by employing some fun-filled
techniques to convey similar messages.
“There’s a wide range of off-the-shelf
games available that concentrate on
cooperation and cooperative behaviors,”
Mr. Denny says.
A particular favorite of his is Pandemic by Z-Man Games, which has
easy-to-grasp rules in which team members work together to save the human
race from deadly diseases.
To make the most of board games,
“leave teams to read through the rules
themselves,” Mr. Denny suggests. “Even
then there’s the need for teams to collaborate when deciding who is going
to read and explain the rules. See who
takes the lead. How are queries dealt
with and resolved? How does the team
commit to learning together?”
MANAGER IN THE
IT’S GONNA GET MESSY
Collaboration training should “focus
on the relationship-building and effective-communication part of what it takes to
get people working together effectively,”
says Shoshana Faire, director of Professional Facilitators International, a
conflict resolution consultancy and
coaching firm in Sydney, Australia.
She’s also coauthor of Everyone Can
Win: How to Resolve Conflict, now in
its second edition [Simon & Schus-ter, 2006].
Project managers shouldn’t view
team-building training as a panacea,
though—or assume that because they’ve
participated in a group session that
teamwork will come easily.
In fact, “collaboration is messy,”
warns Tammy Lenski, Ed.D., founder
and principal of the conflict resolution
consultancy Tammy Lenski LLC in
Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA.
“It requires the right amount of space
for people to make mistakes
and for the organization to be
forgiving of those mistakes.”
Mr. Denny goes so far as
to suggest that some friction is
better than none in the work-
place. “We need to give permis-
sion for conflict to be spoken
about so that team members
can provide honest feedback,”
It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but
sometimes project managers themselves are inadvertently contributing to
the friction between feuding teammates.
“Project managers have to learn how
to manage their own emotions and reac-
tions to be able to best help others in
tense moments,” says Tammy Lenski,
Ed.D., Tammy Lenski LLC, Peterborough,
New Hampshire, USA. “They have to be
able to maintain their own balance in
order to help others.”
Some project professionals are
scheduling masters or Agile whizzes—
but just don’t have the knack for under-
standing team dynamics.
Most people can develop team-building competencies with the right
training, though, attests Shoshana Faire,
Professional Facilitators International,
Sydney, Australia. “You can learn the
skills for emotional intelligence,” she says.
That’s provided, of course, you have
patience, an eagerness to be trained—
and a willingness to step outside your