For 22 years my career has been centered around IT projects. I’ve performed every role including developer and program manager. I've worked with about 15 different large-scale software packages including business enterprise software like SAP and various ETRM vendors. During this time, I experienced projects that ran themselves and others where things went wrong in every phase. Any IT professional can scrutinize the methodology used and the individual deliverables (or lack thereof) to point out the reasons some of the projects failed, but I want to focus on the theme that stands out to me for those that succeeded – Respect, Trust and Teamwork.
Some people say respect is earned, not given and they go into projects with the mindset that people must prove themselves “worthy” before they are shown respect. But I’ve seen it in reverse on successful projects. How about kicking off a project showing respect in its simplest form of being polite? As the project progresses, show respect by being considerate of everyone’s time, acknowledge other’s skills, and thank everyone for the hard work they put in. Respect is a two-way street and you need to show it to get it in return, so what’s wrong with doing it from the beginning? That will go a long way in building a cohesive team and can motivate people to do their best.
Did you know there have been studies to prove that trust can lead to successful projects? Trust types have been defined and models developed, all to demonstrate the importance of trust. In my projects, trust was a result of showing respect to others. The words that come to my mind in describing the trust I’ve experienced include confidence, integrity, and positivity. Have confidence that your teammates were brought in for the skills they possess and will deliver the best product they can. Demonstrate your integrity so people know they can be up-front and honest with you if problems arise. Be positive during your interactions with the team – if something goes wrong take a deep breath and ask how it can be resolved instead of panicking. If you’re like me, you can also sing the first song that pops into your head and get the team laughing before panic sets in. Nothing says trust like a Project Manager singing Keep on Smilin’ by Wet Willie in the middle of a meeting!
Once respect and trust are part of your project, you should see teamwork as a natural output. People will work together in a coordinated effort and they will make decisions based upon the best interest of the project. Don’t be surprised if your teammates recognize when someone is overloaded with work and offer to help; I’ve experienced that many times. I’ve seen developers assist in writing test scripts and project managers perform integration tests all because they were shown respect and their teammates trusted them to help.
You can have a project with perfect deliverables, but if conflict and animosity exists it’s a recipe for failure. Spend time getting to know your teammates, respect what they bring to the table, and trust that they also want to be successful. Even if you encounter issues during the project, having a cohesive team will increase the chances of resolving them and will ultimately lead to the project being successful in the end.
At Veritas, we specialize in various strategy & transformation solutions that enable companies and professionals to transform their businesses. Respect, trust and teamwork are necessary ingredients to create successful projects and lasting results. If you are interested in learning more about our specific capabilities, connect with us or subscribe to our blog to stay connected.