The process of directing and managing project work involves leading and performing the work that was identified in the project plan in order to achieve the project’s objectives. Directing and managing the project work includes training the team members and implementing the planned work methodologies and standards. Much of the process revolves around strong leadership by the project manager.

For example, one of the important responsibilities of a project leader is to develop and lead the team members in professional activities to complete the deliverables of the project.   Project leaders must be effective at both team-building and conflict management skills in order to effectively manage a project team.

Necessary Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills, such as communication, team-building, consensus-building, and conflict resolution are necessary for the project manager to successfully lead the project. Flexibility and adaptability are also essential skills for managing all the different types of personalities a project manager will encounter.

Team-Building

Team-building refers to the environment in which the team operates most effectively. It is a general feeling among the team members that they are all working to solve the same problem, to deliver the same results, and that all members are committed to a common approach. Creating team agreement of the project’s charter is one of the first essential steps to building an effective team.

What is Consensus Among a Team?

Consensus is buy-in and agreement of the project’s objective, approach, timeline, and budget. Consensus is much more than team members nodding their heads in agreement and requires a commitment to accomplish the work of the project regardless of any differences in approach to problem-solving. Consensus means that everyone on the team will be actively engaged and sincerely committed to the project’s objectives.

Why is Consensus Needed?

Some managers believe that consensus is nice to have and that people will participate in the project and do what they’re supposed to do because that is their job. While this is true to some degree as most professionals will do the work they are assigned, the project will go much more smoothly when the team members are fully engaged. If the project manager lacks consensus on the project’s parameters, s/he will find many challenges to completing the project. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to get sign-off, complete tasks, manage scope, and make forward progress when the team members are not in agreement to the expected outcome of the project. Resistance to the project by team members — both stated and unstated — can be extremely challenging to acknowledge and overcome for success.

With consensus, on the other hand, the quality of the work will be better, the analysis of the solution will be deeper, and the involvement and interaction of the team members will be more enjoyable.

How is Consensus Built?

Building consensus, just as a team is built, is normally an iterative process including top-down and bottom-up steps. A project manager can improve the chances of success by gaining consensus on the project charter, the project schedule, team assignments, communication plans, and the specific project deliverables. The project leader should seek consensus from everyone — from the project sponsors, customers, and clients to each and every team member who will work on the project. Successful projects are built from developing and sharing a clearly defined project charter, defined requirements of the team, and a detailed project plan. The more the team members feel informed and comfortable with their assignments, the faster consensus will build among them.

A good project manager will also generate excitement about the project. Project leaders will need to spend time to engage people in conversation about the project’s results and make sure everyone is aligned with the objectives and expected outcomes of the project. Successful project managers will also be able to help people confront challenges with realistic answers while simultaneously preparing for inevitable change. The project charter and the accompanying business case are basic tools (along with consistent, face-to-face, honest communications) for building consensus since these documents define the purpose of the project.To build consensus, a project manager needs solid communication skills. Communication skills include listening as well as writing, presenting, and facilitating. Project leaders must be comfortable communicating with all members of the project team, the sponsors, the customers, and vendors as well as each technical and auxiliary team member.

 

What about Conflict? 

Many different researchers have assessed various methods of conflict management for project management. Generally researchers agree that confrontation, also known as problem solving, may be the best approach to managing team member conflicts. A common thread in utilizing confrontation, or decision-making, in conflicts requires the parties to not jump to conclusions until the appropriate problem analysis is performed and the viewpoints of all sides have been heard. Emotions cannot be the driver in determining how to respond to a conflict.

A project manager should let all involved parties help in developing a plan for the resolution to help gain consensus about the final result. A good practice for the project leader is to perform a follow-up analysis to ensure that the resolution plan is working and if any adjustments need to be made to maintain the solution in practice.

 

Suggested Conflict-Resolution

Other suggested conflict-resolution methods include the following, which may or may not be incorporated in the problem-solving approach:

  • Withdrawing or avoidance
  • Smoothing or accommodating
  • Compromising
  • Forcing
  • Collaborating

As the project progresses through the executing control phase, the project manager must make sure that the team maintains a high level of consensus to deliver the project objectives and that the team remains energetic and enthusiastic. A best practice is for the project manager to frequently revisit the charter with the team to make sure they are developing the skills necessary to complete the work and making adjustments needed to keep the team actively engaged.

Project managers must also utilize skills of team development and team management to help the team members resolve issues and continue work on the project. Many different tools and techniques are available to a project leader, such as the methods of conflict management to help resolve issues and to address effective problem-solving during the execution of a project.

Reference

Dean Brenner. (2011).  Building consensus by creating team ownership [Video].  Retrieved from the YouTub Web site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmXRZANHF7M

 

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