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Current ProjectConnections Newsletter

Every other week, the ProjectConnections newsletter keeps you up-to-date with our latest project management articles, blog postings, and site resources. Newsletter subscribers also get the inside track on special Premium templates available for download to those with a free Member account!

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Current Newsletter (View as new window)


Building strong teams that can stand up to pressure
ProjectConnections  Newsletter
Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
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April 17, 2014 In this edition:
It's the people! It really doesn't matter how good your process is if your team members aren't working together. People and relationships will make or break your projects. If the relationships are non-existent, nothing happens. If the relationships are negative, fraught, challenging… bad!… nothing good happens. But if the relationships are strong, built on trust, transparency, respect and goodwill, nothing can get in the way!

Ever tried to slow down or dismantle a cohesive project team, all driving toward the same goal, with energy and enthusiasm and sincere belief in the project's goals? It can be done, but it takes more effort than most people are willing to invest. The payoff just isn't there, because teams like these can find ways around almost any obstacle. Their focus isn't on outdoing their teammates or pumping their annual review scores, but on delivering real value to the project's customers. By and large, they'll find a way to do it.

This week's newsletter discusses specific tools and techniques we can use to build better, stronger teams, even in a challenging or downright difficult environment. With a strong project team, you won't have to rely as heavily on process to keep your team focused and successful.


» Wisdom, Perspective, & Advice
» Business-Savvy PM
» Achieving "Just Enough" PM
» Personal Power Tools!
» Say NO to Silos
» Project Templates Spotlight
» Premium How-To Course
» Where's ProjectConnections?
» Corporate Subscriptions



PM Light™ Fast Ramp Is Filling Up Fast!

PM Light Fast Ramp Are your management techniques practical and strong without being off-putting or overpowering? Do your teams resist any hint of process, and balk at any mention of project management? Do you wonder how to make all this supposedly important PM stuff actually work across radically different projects and teams? PM Light™ can help you figure out which tools and techniques make sense for bringing just enough project management to your teams. This class will sell out! Fridays, May 9-June 27. 16 PDUs. Learn More »

Wisdom, Perspective, and Advice from the Field
Alan Kock Getting Started with Secure Software Development
by Alan Koch


Last time, we took a quick flyover of the 7 Touchpoints of Secure Software and concluded that our development teams probably lack the knowledge required to apply them. But three of the 7 Touchpoints are things that we can get started on today: Code Review, Risk Analysis, and Security Requirements. Taking those first steps will give us the breathing room we need to build the capability to fully embrace all 7 Touchpoints! Read More »

Sometimes the most effective tool is a simple hello
"As the project manager, you've already gotten a head start by working for days, weeks or even months to build the business case and initiate the team's kickoff. " Jeff Richardson points out that this is rarely true for your team. The first contact they have with your project could be an anonymous meeting invitation telling them when and where to show up, but not why. Jeff explains why it's so important to give people a chance to get to know one another before you get down to work. Read More »

Being a Business-Driven Business-Savvy PM (the kind Execs adore)
Motivate your team without breaking the bank – MEMBER
Project work is serious, but it shouldn't be drudgery. Remember to include team rewards, recognition, celebration, and general hoopla in your project planning. This guideline provides ideas, suggestions, and a detailed example from one team's reward-planning activities.

Keep issues business-focused, not personal – MEMBER
Even in the strongest project team, issues around scope, tradeoffs, or resource conflicts can require management involvement. By setting ground rules for escalation early in the project, you can diffuse some of the emotional charge in these situations. With clear guidelines in place and known to the whole team, "Why would you tell the customer about that problem?!" becomes, "Have you told the customer yet?"
Achieving "Just Enough" PM (Your team will thank you for it)
New! Who are you, and why am I here? – MEMBER
Team dynamics will ultimately define your team's success. You can help new team members develop a sense of team identity without getting corny or feeling silly (unless that's what your group likes!), just by helping them get to know each other. This guideline is designed to accelerate the "getting to know you" process among team members, which will help them build trust and begin to form a true team.

A manual for fellow team members – MEMBER
Do you know how your team members do their best work? Could they say the same about you? This quick chart helps people communicate their most effective modes of work (quiet and solitary, collaborative group work), hot buttons (leaving the coffeepot empty), trust-builders, the best ways to raise and resolve conflicts, and more.
Personal Power Tools! (Grow critical strengths and keep your sanity, too!)
Cinda Voegtli: Focus on the positives, at least once in a while
This is especially important for me to do, to balance out my "fixer" side. I started out as an electrical engineer; I am thus a problem-solver and compulsive optimizer, all the way down to the tips of my toes. Sometimes I let that side of me take over a bit too much, and find myself always writing about what we can all do better, how we can correct common problems in our organizations, etc. All good, useful, necessary to consider if we do want to keep getting better and better and making our daily environment better and better. However, it's so important to stop and appreciate the positives that are already there. So I'm popping in here today to do just that.

What does leadership mean in your current project environment? – PREMIUM
Sometimes we have to be counselors, sometimes critics, sometimes both at once. This table can help you keep a sense of how your project management role can evolve and shift during different project phases. This is a great tool to keep above your desk to remind you that what worked last month may not be the appropriate strategy this month.
Say NO to Silos – Making the Functional-Project Matrix WORK!
Adapting to Our Partners' Perspectives
"There are hundreds of small, seemingly insignificant ways of operating that go unnoticed when immersed in your company's 'business as usual' mode. These differences become sources of conflict and mistrust as we interpret different meanings and make incorrect assumptions when the work begins." Jeff Richardson offers perspectives and practical suggestions for teams that need a lot of diverse groups to work together successfully. (Which is most of them.)

New! A special kickoff for multi-organization teams – PREMIUM
You've pulled one of the "special" projects. Maybe it's a merger, or a new product with multiple partner companies, or an internal project that relies on people from "warring" departments. This guideline helps you plan and facilitate a productive meeting that will help these groups understand each other better and find some common ground. Finding similarities and understanding differences is the first step toward building trust and creating a functional project team.
Spotlight – Other Project Templates, Tools, and Techniques
  • Making Trust Personal - The abstract value of trust is easy to understand. But there's nothing abstract about the fear involved in truly trusting someone.

  • Case Study: High-Speed Conflict and Scope Creep - In a high-conflict environment, this small virtual team managed to solve a pressing business issue by focusing on needs rather than wants, and solutions rather than personalities. Here's how. – MEMBER

  • Don't leave key project influencers to chance!
    This Premium resource is free to registered Members until May 1, 2014
    There are people out there who can influence your project, even if they don't know it yet. Use this worksheet and plan to identify possible project influencers and decide how to keep them in the loop and on board with your project's needs and goals. – SPECIAL

  • Preventing and Solving Meeting Disruptions - Deal with common disruptions without dragging your meeting off track or creating personal issues among team members. The best solution, obviously, is to set up an environment that avoids the problems in the first place. But this guideline also includes scripts and suggestions you can memorize for in-the-moment course corrections. – PREMIUM

  • It's the people that matter - Whether or not your team has gone through formal personality typing exercises, you can get better results if you understand how their various communication styles can interact. This guideline provides a practical overview of popular systems, and how thoughtful consideration can help you avoid conflicts and promote effective collaboration. – MEMBER
Premium How-To Course
New! Agile Approaches to Status Meetings
Presented by Kent McDonald

What if you could get all the information you needed from a status meeting in just 15 minutes? Discover a different way of doing status meetings, using a popular Agile technique. If your team has adopted or is experimenting with Agile methods, stand-up meetings are likely a core part of your communication strategy. But even for traditional methodologies, this unique approach can help teams focus on the really important stuff and get back to work quickly. 1 PDU. Learn more »
Where's ProjectConnections?
Kent McDonald is reprising his BA World presentation on Analysis in Agile at Central Indiana IIBA Professional Development Day on April 22, and at the Seattle IIBA Chapter Meeting on April 29.

Taking the PMP® Certification Exam soon? Carl Pritchard is conducting a prep class June 3-4 in Rockville, Maryland. His 2-day session walks you through everything you need to know to prepare for and pass your exam. Click here for more information and registration (PDF).
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
Want your team members to have their own access to templates and how-to resources for their project work? Need to share documents and deliverables beyond your project team? We make it easier with affordable corporate subscriptions and licensing. Detailed information regarding corporate options is available online. Give your whole team, or even the entire organization, cost-effective access to our comprehensive online library of resources. You already know how helpful it's been for you. Now it's time to share with everyone else. Find out more »

Not sure if corporate terms apply to you? Check out our licensing terms at the top of our Terms of Service page, in refreshingly ordinary, everyday English.


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