Consider this – you’re building out your project staff for your next big multi-million dollar, yearlong project. You have major input as to who you get on your team (we can always dream, right?). What are you looking for? What characteristics do you want to build your team around?
I often suggest who I want, but we all know how well that works out. Resources are usually overcommitted as it is and chances are the ones you want are the best and probably not all available at the same time to grace your project and help create a ‘super team.’
So, even if we don’t always get to choose who is on our project teams, there are certainly still qualities we look for right? If those qualities aren’t present and they become an issue on the project, we’re likely to seek a personnel change – so it’s nice to go into an engagement knowing what you need.
Here’s my list of 4 key characteristics that I look for and hope to get in each of the project team members that I’m eventually assigned…
Good communication skills
It’s important for team members to be able to stand in front of the customer and provide updates when needed. Team members are expected to make periodic presentations to the customer or executive management. They are also expected to hold discussions with them at key points throughout the project and it’s important that they can conduct themselves in a way that will instill confidence in the team’s ability to deliver on the engagement.
Attention to detail
Running projects requires a lot of attention to detail so this quality is no surprise. As I assign project tasks, I expect that they be performed well and with the proper attention to detail so that we aren’t presenting the customer with an error-filled deliverable. I went through that process once with a business analyst and a frustrated customer and I never want to go there again. I did come out of that project with a lessons learned however – peer review every deliverable possible. Repeated submissions of documents with typos can make a customer uneasy and cause them to lose confidence in the team’s ability to deliver quality on anything.
When my project team members are passing along vital project information to the customer, it needs to be accurate and honest. Telling the customer things are fine when they are not serves no good purpose. Both good and bad news needs to be shared equally with executive management and the customer and responsibility for each needs to be accepted appropriately.
Obedience to leadership
Finally, all team members must understand their role and the project manager’s role on the project. Communications and overall decisions need to at least go through the project manager. Attempts to circumvent that process can cause dissension on the team, miscommunication to the customer, and conflict among resources. The team members are skilled and absolutely vital project resources, but they also need to understand who is ultimately in charge of the project.
Summary / call for input
I realize this list could go on and on, but these are some of my personal favorites. These are all at least good building blocks to structure a team around and help guarantee that your team members will be confident and of good character. The rest often falls into place from just those two things.
Do you agree? What are your thoughts…and what would you add to this list? If you’re a PM, what qualities do you look for in project staff?