Tee It Up!

This is a guest post by Jerry Johns. Jerry has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized programs and projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has helped setup a Project Management Office (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project consulting services to clients across multiple industries. Jerry lives in Macon, Georgia, with his wife Tracy and two children. He can be found on LinkedIn.

Photo courtesy of iStock.com.

I recently watched a golf tournament. The course was perfectly green and the competition was high.

Amid the hushed tones of the announcers and the silent, still crowd, each player approached the tee and carefully placed his ball. Then… we wait.

We wait while he shuffles his feet, takes a few practice swings, looks down the green, shuffles his feet some more – and then WHAM! –he finally hits the ball.

During the wait, it occurred to me that the manner in which players approach the tee heavily influences their success. Perhaps we project managers could use a few golf lessons?

The Three T’s

I believe there are three important T’s in every project. And, like golf, how project managers approach the T’s heavily influences their success. Of course, I’m talking about trust, transparency, and teamwork.


Projects encompass technology, deliverables, constraints, schedules, and all that other “stuff.” People, however, stand head and shoulders above all of these other aspects. People get the work done, plain and simple. And, trust is the “great enabler” of people. Without trust, people draw inward and work dries up.

What is trust exactly? I’m glad you asked. Steven Covey in his book, “The Speed of Trust” says trust involves two things:  1) character and 2) competence. Character includes your motive and integrity. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, and results.

You can have a good motive, but if you don’t deliver, you will lose trust. You may also deliver, but if you are not honest, you will lose their trust.

As project managers, we must epitomize trust. We must be trustworthy. We should foster trust in others.


It’s difficult to say, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake” or to give someone else the credit for well-received work. I know; I have to do both things quite often. But, it’s absolutely necessary. The people on our projects should know we’re human; we’re going to make mistakes.

Our transparency enables them to be transparent. After all, the last things you want are people on your team cutting corners because they underestimated their efforts, made a mistake, or worked on someone’s project instead of yours.

Demonstrate transparency. Take the lead early in the project by apologizing for some small error. Give credit to people on the team in front of their teammates. You, nor they, have anything to hide.


We talk a lot about “teamwork.” Let’s have teamwork! Let’s work as a team! There’s no “I” in team! And, so on.

Teamwork is not just another project deliverable. Teamwork is a group of people willingly working together towards a common purpose. Teamwork “happens” when people trust each other and are transparent to one another.

So rather than focusing on “teamwork,” focus on trust and transparency. Then, the team really will work.

Question: What do you do to ensure transparency and to build trust with your teams?

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com

Editors Note: This article was originally published in February, 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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