Take the time to build the right team and your project will practically propel itself. Here’s how:
Create an Ideal Team Member Profile that Outlines Desired Attributes
Outlines your rationale in service of the project; demonstrates that politics and favoritism don’t underscore your selection criteria.
“No” goes down more smoothly when a strategy team member wishes to install someone who doesn’t fit the profile (because of politics, favoritism, blind spots).
Meet Briefly with the Strategy Team, Printed Profile in Hand
Ask strategy team members (representing different areas of the organization) to identify the person in their business area whose skills and professional attributes best fit the profile.
Be willing to say “no” and say why when a strategy team member lobbies for someone who does not fit the profile.
Coach Strategy Team Members on the Approach
Encourage senior leaders to ask for participation from the person in their area who meets the Ideal Team Member Profile. You want people on your project team who want to be there, not who feel strong-armed into participating.
If the invitee accepts, ask supervisors to limit additional projects. Most folks on a satellite project team also maintain regular work responsibilities. Team members need sufficient bandwidth in schedules and energy to participate at their highest level.
Officially Welcome New Team Members with Human Contact
Stop by their cubie.
If empty leave a brief note saying you stopped by and will call.
Call. Do not send an email, text or video chat.
Ideal Project Team Member Profile: Implementation Case Study
Here’s the profile I created for the enterprise-wide, 30 member project team I formed at a communications company:
They were to come from front line and supervisory levels of the organization. In addition to technical expertise, these were the folks who knew were the bodies were buried (historians) and whose daily work life would be directly impacted by enterprise-wide implementation. Common sense dictated they needed to be central to the project’s construction.
Engaging the front line added value of giving genuine props to an organization level that typically (in this particular culture) hadn’t felt a lot of love during high-profile strategic initiatives. They’d get cursory reports but no opportunity to shine while contributing to its fruition. My approach engendered loyalty: not to me, but to the project.
No coverts. No (obvious) gadflies. One reason I didn’t want management pets on the team. I had spent weeks facilitating company-wide philosophical and strategic discussions. The strategy was “agreed upon” (dissent always lingers, which is healthy) and documented. As goes the organic, chaotic nature of creative process, there would be unknowns, bumps and redirects. These developments are more effectively addressed and managed by a team unified in its commitment to the project goal.
Before I created and documented the Ideal Project Team Member Profile, voices here and there would propose a 180 in the developing strategy. This would affect the composition of the team. All good and welcomed. I’ve experienced how consensus breeds mediocrity so I never squash debate. It’s not that the organization mightn’t grow the project in that direction at a later date. Right now, though, I had blueprints in hand, ready to lay foundation and build the frame. Not interested in switching contractors at this juncture.
I did not invite dissenters to the team, even though before my arrival to the organization (hired expressly for this role) some had been intimately involved with the project. Some held leadership roles. Had I run for a popularity contest, the choice to exclude dissenters would have ensured a loss. I did, though, respect their voice and throughout implementation, remained open to ideas that served the project.
When I convened my first and only all-team meeting of 30 people, the guiding blueprint of the member profile assured that any effort bearing their thumbprint would be its very best.
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