Management Matters: Improve Your Team Projects This Year

It’s often the things that don’t get talked about that create the most damage and that is especially true on project teams.

A recent report found that fewer than one in five project leaders effectively engage in the critical conversations needed to solve the problems that most often derail projects. And there is a big difference between speaking up and speaking up well.

The five areas that derail a team’s success that need to be discussed include:

  • Planning that is pulled from thin air – A project that has resource limits and deadlines set with no consideration for reality. They are pulled magically from tine air!
  • Invisible sponsorsLeaders who fail to provide any leadership, political clout, time, energy or interest in seeing a project through to completion.
  • Going around - People work around the priority-setting process and no one hold them accountable for doing so.
  • Silent dare - This is when neither the leader nor the team members admit that there are problems with a project, and they wait for ‘someone else to speak up.
  • Absent membership - Team members are unwilling or unable to support the project, and the leaders are unwilling to talk about their failures candidly.

To speak effectively about these issues:

  • Don’t water down your concerns. You want to really air the issue, not hide it from view.
  • Use phrasing that minimizes people’s defensiveness. Talk about what is wrong, not why or who should be blamed.
  • Create an environment conducive to holding these difficult conversations. Repeatedly send a clear and public message that these conversations are crucial and that those who initiate them are highly valued. Those who take a chance on the new behavior or bringing up a difficult topic should be seen as heroes

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 25 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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