At a recent project management conference at which I was delivering a keynote presentation, I opened by asking the audience what the key performance indicators were that they measured to ensure their project delivered within the agreed timescales, to the quality required and within the budget they had been allocated. Their responses were fascinating.
They included risks, milestones, deliverables and budget however one area that was not mentioned was ‘our project team’. Interesting indeed, when all the research and white papers on projects highlight time and time again that the major reasons why projects fail are down to people – a study by Talent Alignment 2014 found that 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. It’s not the processes or the project management methodology used or indeed the technology, failure is often due to the lack of effective leadership and communication capabilities, not being aware of the skills and needs of team members and an understanding of the culture of the team when they are working together.
Working with various project teams in different industry sectors, the reason why the focus is on measuring risks, deliverables, milestones and budgets is quite simply that these are tangible and can therefore be measured reasonably easily, however understanding the skills of the leader, the team and also the culture of the team are so difficult to measure. In addition, due in some part to our economy historically being manufacturing based, a significant amount of leadership learning tends to be based on transactional analysis i.e. measures that ultimately can be accounted for on the P&L.
Whilst transactional measurement is very important, as we move to a more service-based economy, there is a shift to delivering success through transformational leadership, workforce engagement and motivation and customer service. The importance therefore of being able to understand, value, appreciate and measure what has historically been thought of as intangible or not being readily attributed to the P&L has increased significantly.
If you have robust, tried and tested project management methodologies to enable you to tangibly measure key agreed indicators, what is available to help you understand leadership capabilities, skills of team members and the culture of your team?
This was one of the conundrums I faced as a project leader and led me to study behavioural psychology and focus on the people aspects of change. Prior to my studies, my focus, due to being taught this way was transactional and on a number of occasions, in reflection was the reason why the projects I led failed to achieve the agreed goals. It wasn’t until I fully understood the importance of the behavioural aspects of change that my success rate as a project leader increased significantly.
So as a leader, how can you understand yourself better? Daniel Goleman’s studies on what he named ‘Emotional Intelligence’ sights self-awareness as being a key differentiator to an individual’s performance and success.
There are many self-awareness profiles in the market, most of which are based on the psychology of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, recognised as the Father of modern day psychology. The key is finding a profiling tool that is (a) recognised by the British Psychological Society i.e. they have validated it and (b) includes accurate and valuable information about you and your leadership style, supporting your development and growth in a format that is easy to use.
The profiling tool we support clients with at The Colour Works uses colour to interpret the psychology that underpins it and, based on client feedback, makes it easily accessible, memorable, long-lasting and importantly useable. It focusses not only on you with information that covers:
your personal style
the strengths and value you bring to a team
your possible blind spots and areas of challenge
your decision-making style and communication needs
However it also explores the relationship you have with others, especially those who are behaviourally different to you.
Combined with experiential team workshops, a profiling tool will enable you to really get to understand you and your project team better and appreciate the diversity of skills that you have within it.
So once you have understood yourself and your team members, how can you measure your teamwork to ensure you and your team are working effectively?
Again, this was something I had struggled with as a project leader and I was therefore keen to find a solution to address. After research into team-dynamics and what makes a team exemplary, at The Colour Works, we have developed a unique tool that supports effective team working in providing clarity and measurability around the culture of your team.
Each team member completes a 15-minute questionnaire with the statements they have answered being amalgamated into 16 key elements that are essential in the development of a high-performing team. These 16 elements cover areas such as decision making, accountability, trust and communication. The resulting report provides a clear picture of where your team is performing well, as well as areas that need to be addressed so that actions can be agreed and followed through. So as a project leader there is a tool to enable the intangible to become tangible. In addition, the questionnaire can be re-run every 3 months to measure the progress made.
So, in conclusion, as a project leader, to support you and your team in achieving success in your project, it is important that you not only have the correct and effective project management methodology and tools but that you also use appropriate profiling and team performance tools to support you in understanding yourself and your team. It is only when you have a combination of these that outstanding success will occur.