Every team needs a strong, strategic platform (foundation) to stand on.

Three things to establish within your team environment in order to make collaboration and risk management faster, easier and more successful, includes:

  1. Belonging
  2. Significance
  3. Boundaries

1) Belonging 
This can be described as knowing where they fit within the team and also the organization.  Both are critical and will overlap, so one easy way to understand if there is an issue is to stop and ask the simple question …. “how are you feeling in terms of comfort for your position within the company”.  If that is not addressed you must have a strategy to address it as best you can (likely there is a shortage of resources – so be creative J)
Other aspects of belonging include understanding how everyone is connected to others, every person wants to fit and have positive interactions and trust, which leads to strong communication, productivity and performance.  A great mentor once told me, do you understand how you "fit the click".  

2) Significance 
This can be described as the ability to have every single person understand how their capabilities are aligned with work demands.  How can leadership enable all team members to make a difference in the project through meaningful contributions – delivering a sense of personal power.  All humans are hard-wired with a need for personal power which leads to growth of confidence that leads to independence and self-actualization.  No person wants to be micro-managed.

However, do not get caught int he trap, since far too often a manager will create robots within the project team, and the team also starts to want to act this way, and thus an approach starts to form such as:

  1. Manager tells the employee what to do
  2. Manager tells how to do it
  3. Manager monitors the work and checks and gets involved
  4. Manager has to approve continuously

3) Boundaries
A plan must exist that sets the boundaries of the work to be completed. Every project must have a plan, Although we want each team member to have self-independence and empowerment, they must be working together and be on the same journey. Multiple paths could be taken but they are all climbing the same mountain. Too often companies establish high levels rules, policies and excessive administration – which turns employees into robots.  Thus, it is a fine balance as to when do you micro-manage and when do you provide freedom to achieve the work and put your own mark on it. This is more of an art than a science and must align with the corporate values, vision and culture. 

To help enable the three parameters listed above, tools that can be utilized include:
  • Belonging – org chart (diagrams for multiple levels), roles and responsibilities (customized for each project), RAM (Responsibility and Assignment Matrix), Communication Plan (swim lanes as to who to go to for what and when), team building events
  • Significance –  Transparency on Role Accountability and the assigned person’s Capability (this is key and can leverage concepts fro Requisite Organizational Design or Elliott Jaques methodologies), check point reviews (what has been completed – celebrate milestones), recognition culture (do not need to have tangible awards/gifts we all have a job to do and positive recognition culture can be instilled into a team without a physical cost to the project), alignment of project achievements with personal learning or growth plans
  • Boundaries – Sponsor’s Vision charter, guidelines, codes of conduct, plans, objectives, Constraints (money, time, scope, quality, HR)
  • Priorities - always know AND understand the expecations and the level of importance (priorities) for your work and then also the work that is to be done by your organization
  • Hiring - don't hire by the resume only, know and understand the personality, they need to fit, it will be a great benefit and win-win for both the person and the company
  • Overall: ensure the Project Team has established a Goal Oriented Culture (environment, theme, feel) that works collaboratively towards achieving measurable goals. Tools to help with goal management include:  strategies, KPIs/CSFs, objectives, deliverables, schedules, bar charts (gannt charts), graphs, spreadsheets, milestones, (ideally you can have both tangible, concrete goals but do not forget to include the intangible, subjective goals) and also the excerpts from specific documents such as:  Proposal, Charter, Scope Statement and Project Plan