It’s estimated by the Project Management Institute that 90% of project management is communication. Whether you’re a project leader or someone who’s only tangentially involved, everyone understands the value of open communication. We all know the benefits of having fluid team communication – it engages individuals and helps keep everyone on the same page – however, it’s not always an easy task to achieve. As a team leader, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of taking the lead and dictating tasks and strategy to your team. While it may seem that you are pushing towards your end goals, it’s the wrong way. Team leaders need to facilitate, not dictate.
According to an article by Craig Mullen off the blog, Journey to the Cloud, “Facilitating the team’s communication channels is the single most important effort of a good project manager”. If becoming your team’s facilitator is such an important role in obtaining project success, what are some steps team leaders can take to help make sure they are the best facilitator they can be?
Teams working towards a common goal are a lot like a wolf pack. A wolf – much like an individual team member – has to be able to support the pack, but also has to be able to survive on its own. When putting together a team, leaders’ goals should be to put together a “pack” with varying strengths and opinions that can perform at their own peak level. A high caliber team is strong because each of its team members is able to play off their peer’s strengths and abilities.
Here are 5 tips courtesy of Craig Mullen to help you build your own strong wolf pack.
- Listen – It’s difficult sometimes to remember this particularly if you are a team leader. But regardless of your role, you have to remember to listen. If your job is to facilitate not to dictate, then what’s a better way to show this to your team than by being known as a great listener?
- Value Ideas – This goes hand in hand with the previous point. There’s a reason why we use the expression “two heads are better than one”. If you fail to value the ideas of others in favor of always running with your own, you’re not only failing to engage your team, but also you could be missing out on some great suggestions.
- Positive Thinking – If you remember last week, I talked about the power of positive reinforcement as a means to help get more out of your team’s effort. In addition to positive reinforcement being an excellent motivator, people enjoy working around other positive individuals. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we think we can, odds are we will.
- Always Ask How You Can Help – A great way to help bond with your team and reinforce the fact that you are there to function as a facilitator rather than the leader, is to try and always end your conversations with asking how you can help.
- Have A Sense of Humor – Last but certainly not least, it’s important to remember to try and have some fun with what you’re doing.
When taking this approach as being a facilitator, try to view your team as a collaborative resource. Every team leader relies on their team to identify project information in order to ideally circumvent any issues before problems occur. When issues do occur, facilitating conversations and soliciting input form the team, both formally and informally, is far more effective than declaring a solution. A team that stresses teamwork, loyalty and communication as the norm can provide some pretty astounding results.