In a perfect world, any business team assembled to take on a project would be a competent group of professionals who seamlessly act as one entity. In the real world, it's a bit different. A good team tends to be made up of strong, creative, energetic and insightful members. That's the perfect recipe for egos, personalities and methods to clash. People tend to act in their own best interests and play the blame game regardless of the outcome. Here are some ideas that will help you and your team keep their eyes on the prize:
1. Keep A Log
Keeping a daily log will help you maintain contact with sources that prove valuable, learn from mistakes and develop a winning methodology. When it comes to the good, take note of that great idea, suggestion, shortcut or contact that helped bring it all home. When it comes to the bad, take note of any major problems, missed deadlines, bad numbers and the parties most responsible for those negatives. You may also want to write down your feelings as you progress through each task. This will provide emotional hindsight and give you some insight into how intuitive you may be. Being intuitive is less about possessing some sort of psychic ability and more about having a talent for being able to predict the probable outcome of a situation based on what you see happening at any given time. Intuition can be extremely helpful to a team when choosing a direction becomes convoluted by group disagreements.
2. Don't Revisit Every Decision
We live in a day when junk psychology and television psychiatrists have us going in reverse, mentally speaking. Instead of carefully considering their next move, people tend to waste time revisiting every decision they have ever made or reliving every experience or emotion they have ever had. A good project plan eliminates the need for second-guessing.
3. Make An Honest List of Your Strengths
It's wise for individual members to give serious thought to the part they can best play in the group plan before the first team meeting. When that first meeting does occur, you should be ready to cite instances where your talents and experience at a particular task have paid off and lead to the successful completion of previous projects. That may help you get assigned to tasks you feel most comfortable working on.
4. Intangibles: They Can Turn Into Tangibles
Every project involves things that we do not expect or see coming. It's those kinds of intangibles that can trip you up as they turn into tangibles. Anyone who has been in the business world for more then five minutes knows how delicate the process can be. Contractors show up to do a job, but have nothing to work with. A electricity brown out occurs just as you are ready to begin an important presentation. One or one hundred things can happen during a project to disrupt or slow things down. Developing alternative resources in advance can really save the day when push comes to shove.
5. Deadlines: Keep One Eye On A Deadline and The Other On Quality
Most companies live and die on deadlines. However, good companies and business leaders know that sometimes a deadline must be sacrificed in favor of quality over substance. Just having a finished project is not always a good thing is it means that the end result is substandard or will reflect on the company or team in a negative way. Every team leader and member should keep one eye on the deadline and the other on quality.
6. Learn From Your Mistakes
People and project teams that are set in their ways tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you are part of that kind of mess and know better, don't be afraid to have your objection on the record when you see the team headed in a direction that has proven disastrous on previous occasions. Moving forward in a positive way means being willing to try new directions instead of getting mired in flawed ideas that haven't worked well in the past.
7. Be Systematic, But Flexible
When it comes to successfully completing a business project, sticking to the plan is an essential. That kind of systematic approach keeps all the team members on track and working from the same playbook. However, there are times when a plan simply doesn't anticipate the unexpected. A Team leader and members most be willing to take a chance and bend the rules, occasionally, to get the job done.
8. Reign In The Personalities, Be Consistently Good
Most college graduates suffer from Professoritis. They take on the personality, mannerisms or management style of an Educator they admired while in school. This can be very bad news for co-workers because the style they have adopted is usually a harsh and unforgiving one. They tend to wear themselves and everyone else out. That makes it almost impossible for a team that must work together on a regular basis to function properly. Being consistently good means having the ability to manage and control yourself and your team. That includes gaining and retaining the respect of your peers. Someone with an over-bearing personality or completely out of control ego will always be a divisive force on any team.
9. Project Echoes: The Post-Project Meeting
Most team members are so glad to see a project completed that they rarely conduct a post-project meeting for fear it will turn into a blame fest. It doesn't have to be that way. A productive post-project meeting should explore the positives of what happened during the process. It's an opportunity to make a short list of new directions, shortcuts, resources and ideas that contributed to the success of a project. If a project failed to meet expectations, that's a matter for another day.
Surviving a project is all about professional etiquette and skill. It you do not have the skill necessary to be a productive part of any business team, blaming others or creating division among members will not help your cause. If you do possess the skills needed to help bring a project home, you also have the responsibility to work with other team members in and productive and civil way. Those willing to work with instead of against team members are often the voices of reason within a group. It's those people who end up reaping the most rewards.