Team values drive the team’s behavior and actions. If the team values efficiency, individuals will look for ways to get greater results with less effort. Project managers who value communication seek to improve understanding between stakeholders.
Many individuals assume that all the team members have similar values. While everyone may agree on project goals, they may not agree on the same path to success.
Does everyone value respect, trust, and encouragement in their day-to-day interactions? Team members will be more productive when they encourage one another and when project managers express appreciation.
Project managers rarely discuss values. Why? Because they see values as fluff. Teams are under pressure to execute and deliver. Project managers may not feel that they have time to clarify values.
So, how can we engage our team members and have a meaningful discussion on values?
Project managers can create a team constitution when initiating projects. What is a team constitution? It is a list of shared values. As the team creates the constitution, ask team members to reflect on previous projects. Ask them to identify desired attitudes and behaviors.
Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. -American poet Mattie Stepanek
Develop a Team Constitution
|Team Constitution Example|
1. Team members will complete activities on time. If anything impedes a team member’s ability to complete an activity, the team member will proactively notify the project manager.
2. Team members will promote team unity by seeking to communicate and collaborate as a team.
3. Team members will show respect to other team members when opinions are expressed contrary to their own.
4. Team members will arrive at team meetings on time and come prepared to contribute.
How to Promote Team Unity
One of the most important team values is unity. In some teams, there may be individuals who like to criticize and cause division. Project teams with an unhealthy soul, the deepest part of the team, will experience disintegration; a house divided will fall. Project managers should promote and safeguard team unity.
If a team fails to uphold unity as a core value, teams may experience increased conflict, decreased productivity, and undue stress. When unity is not a core value, team members are more likely to criticize one another during meetings and behind their backs. It takes great maturity for teams to have healthy debates – which we desire –without crossing the line of respect.
Project managers should not expect their team members to agree on every issue. Good leaders promote diversity and differences of opinions. Once the ideas have been shared, debated, and analyzed, a decision should be made that the team can support together.
Imagine that you are brainstorming ways the team might respond to a significant project threat. The project manager elicits as many ideas as possible. Brainstorming rules apply – no one criticizes any ideas. Once the viewpoints are captured, the project manager works with the team to prioritize and select the best responses.
Furthermore, imagine a team member who feels shunned because his idea is not chosen. After the meeting, this individual speaks with a senior executive about the meeting, the chosen response plans, and why his suggestion should have been chosen. This type of behavior undermines the project manager and the team – resulting in disunity.
Project managers cannot always control this type of behavior. But consider the following tips:
• Establish unity as a core value
• Let your team members know that your door is always open
• Facilitate open discussions with your team members
• Promote trust within your team.