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Working Together on Projects

Working together is vital to successfully complete unique assignments. Employees must find a one-off form of collaboration. This places high demands on team building, leadership, conflict management and decision-making.

Achieving a unique and complex assignment almost always requires input from different people. These people often come from different organizations. Let it be clear from the outset what the team 'wants' to be. Otherwise, teamwork creates confusion and the intended outcomes aren't at risk.

Definition

A team is a group of people with complementary competencies who are committed to common, specific goals and who agree on a working method for which they hold themselves mutually responsible.

Composition

Too many team members make the interaction too complex. Seven to nine members is a workable upper limit in practice. The lower limit is for four team members: there must be substitutes in the event of a failure. In addition, complementarity is important. Both in subject matter expertise and in cognitive skills and team behavior.

Commitment

Inner connection and involvement in the entire task are absolutely necessary. This increases the willingness to make extra efforts. Conflicts are also easier to resolve. This requires team responsibility: team members feel jointly responsible for reaching the finish line.

Instruments

Remember that team members can't feel responsible until they've the right tools:

- they're able to direct the work process
- they receive reliable information about the progress of their efforts

Create a team

Most teams develop according to a more or less fixed pattern. Different questions and problems arise in different phases of team development. These issues are rarely explicit.

Remember that at each stage other non-explicit questions are at play

- Seeking acceptance: do they like me? Am I part of it?
- Data exchange: what can I say or not? What do others say?
- Integrating goals: what do we want to achieve with this? What are main and side issues?
- Tackling and controlling the process: who fulfills which role? Who's in charge?

To do

Make problems and bottlenecks visible as they arise

- Speak signals of dissatisfaction within yourself
- Support and encourage others when they do so
- Make a diagnosis
- Take a step in place
- Work on acceptance, data exchange and goal integration
- Take care of the process control.

Behave in your team

All employees respond to each other within a team. One's behavior evokes the other's behavior. We distinguish between counter-behavior, joint behavior, upper behavior and sub-behavior. Convert someone who works against you by working together.

We distinguish four behavioral categories:

- Collaboration is cooperating, collaborating, encouraging
- Counter-behavior is working against, being critical, turning away
- Above behavior is leading, standing above it, dominating
- Sub-behavior is submissive or dependent, follow

Action and response

One person's behavior influences the other's behavior

- Together behavior calls for joint behavior
- Counter-behavior evokes counter-behavior
- Above behavior evokes sub behavior
- Lower behavior evokes upper behavior

All behavior

Would you rather convert someone who works against you by working together than by going against it? Remember that any type of behavior is necessary in an effective team. Counter-behavior sounds negative, but critical ability in a team is important and it goes without saying that you need leaders and followers.

Team roles (according to Belbin)

The Englishman Belbin has done a lot of research into the success and failure factors of teams. His conclusion is that the success of a team is mainly determined by connecting the knowledge, skills and attitude of team members.

The complementarity of team members' knowledge, skills and attitudes determines the success of the team. This complementarity is far more important to the effectiveness and efficiency of that team than the individual ability of a team member.

This's the conclusion of the Englishman Belbin. He has done a lot of research into the success and failure factors of teams.

His research also shows that there are eight different team roles. A team role is mainly about what you do and how you do it. It's not about what you are.

The team roles are:

- The coordinator: he selects topics that require attention and summarizes discussions. He has a good sense of timing and the ability to get excited. He can be a little manipulative at times
- The designer (specialist): he searches for patterns in discussions. Drives on agreement. He's passionate and convinced of his own capabilities. He can easily provoke others and make hurtful statements
- The inventor: he mainly generates new ideas and searches for new solutions. He's prone to praise and can't tolerate criticism. He likes to work remotely from the team, is sometimes impractical and can sometimes have radical ideas
- The tester: he likes to clarify and clarify ambiguities. He's able to think critically and has the ability to reduce complexity. He tends to be critical and isn't motivated to motivate others
- The worker: he converts ideas into practical matters and systematically executes agreements. He has a sense of reality, self-control and discipline. In addition, he tends to shut himself off to ideas with vague applicability
- The researcher: he searches for ideas outside the group, makes contacts with all kinds of people. He often brings new ideas into discussions, is outgoing and curious. He has no natural inclination to finish the job
- The group worker: this provides support to teammates, continues with ideas from others and prevents disturbances in the group process. He likes people, can listen well but isn't decisive and is easily influenced
- The Finisher: This incites others to action. His concern is order and efficiency. He has self-control but also tends to over-chase people. He has little eye for the bigger picture.

Team role arrogance

The pitfall in team roles is that almost every team member prefers their own characteristics when judging others. This's called team role assurance. The unconscious tendency to constantly measure others by their own qualities.

Designer

The Designer searches for patterns in discussions. The designer has the courage to overcome obstacles and aims for agreement. A designer is passionate and convinced of his own ability.

The Designer searches for patterns in discussions. He has the courage to overcome obstacles. He aims for agreement. She's passionate and convinced of her own ability. In discussions she quickly recognizes the right patterns. She can easily provoke others and make hurtful statements.

The designer

- Focus on main features
- Is driven
- Is convinced of himself

But:

- can't stand vague ideas and floating people
- can't stand people who complain or feel sorry for themselves

Researcher

The Researcher searches for ideas outside the group. To this end, the researcher establishes and maintains contacts with all kinds of people.

The Researcher is someone who searches for ideas outside the group. To this end, she establishes and maintains contacts with all kinds of people. She often brings new ideas into the discussion. She's usually outgoing and curious and has no natural inclination to finish the job.

The researcher

- Is outgoing
- Is curious
- Is open to all possibilities and novelties

But:

- is often much too enthusiastic
- does nothing about aftercare

Thinker

The Thinker mainly generates new ideas. The inventor searches for new solutions and likes to work remotely from the team. A creator is sensitive to praise, but often can't tolerate criticism.

The Thinker mainly generates new ideas, searches for new solutions. A creator likes to work remotely from the team. He's prone to praise but often can't tolerate critical comments. Characteristic is imagination and independence from other people's views. He can be impractical at times and his ideas can be radical at times.

The creator

- Is very intelligent
- Thinks independently
- Has fantasy

But:

- isn't very practical
- isn't with both feet on the ground
- can't communicate very well

Worker

The Worker converts ideas into practical matters. The worker considers what's and what isn't usable and systematically executes agreements. A worker has a sense of reality, self-control and discipline.

The Worker converts converts ideas into practical matters. It considers what's and what isn't usable and systematically executes agreements. Her sense of reality, self-control and discipline outweigh her tendency to shut down. Certainly for ideas whose applicability is vague in her view.

The worker

- Has common sense
- Is practical
- Is realistic
- Has good control over herself

But:

- isn't very flexible
- doesn't like speculating, specially when it isn't immediately clear what it yields

Group worker

The Group Worker provides support to teammates. The group worker continues with ideas from others and prevents disturbances in the group process (the interaction).

The Group Worker provides support to teammates. He continues with ideas from others and prevents disturbances in the group process (the interaction). He's also fond of people and can listen well. But a group worker is less decisive and is easily influenced.

The group worker

- Is helpful and flexible
- Continuously improves communication
- Can listen well

But:

- is rather indecisive
- can't withstand tensions
- doesn't like competition

Coordinator

The Coordinator selects topics that require attention. He also often summarizes and organizes discussions. He can properly recognize everyone's strengths and weaknesses. He can sometimes appear manipulative.

The Coordinator is engaged in the selection of topics that require attention and in summarizing and organizing discussions. He's often capable of recognizing everyone's strengths and weaknesses. His traits are a good sense of timing and balance and an ability to command enthusiasm. He can sometimes have something manipulative about him.

The coordinator

- Earn respect
- Get people excited
- Can time well
- Can communicate well

But:

- isn't very creative
- isn't really good at anything

Finisher

The Finisher emphasizes the need to finish something. The finisher exerts pressure on team members if necessary. A finisher encourages others to take action out of concern for order and efficiency.

The Finisher is someone who emphasizes the need to finish something. To this end, she puts pressure on team members if necessary. In short, she encourages others to take action. Her concern is order and efficiency. She has self-control but also tends to over-chase people. In many cases she has little eye for the bigger picture.

The Finisher

- Is serious and likes order and cleanliness
- Can control himself well
- Is a strong personality

But:

- is restless
- encourage others
- is intolerant of superficial people

Reviewer / tester

The Reviewer likes to clarify ambiguities. The assessor evaluates all kinds of suggestions in order to arrive at decisions. A tester usually values ​​other people's contributions well.

The Reviewer likes to clarify ambiguities. He evaluates all kinds of suggestions in order to make decisions. He usually values ​​ other people's contributions well. He's able to think critically and has the ability to reduce complexity. On the other hand, he sometimes tends to be too critical. He also lacks the drive and the ability to motivate others.

The tester

- Can think critically
- Is objective
- Can still see the forest through the trees

But:

- is much too critical
- is boring and not very enthusiastic
- is actually a bit too serious

Working together in a team

When working in teams for unique assignments, three aspects are important: content, procedure and interaction. The first two can be arranged and planned in advance. Interaction not: it arises during the collaboration.

Working well together requires the right content, procedure and interaction.

Content

Determine what needs to be achieved and done for the content. What are you together for? For example, pay attention to:

- target / problem determination
- result specification
- understanding
- information, theories or ideas

Procedure

For the purpose of the procedure, determine how you'll work together and how you'll organize the discussions. For example, think of:

- decision-making procedures
- scheduling and reporting
- method

Interaction

Determine how the collaboration will take place for the benefit of the interaction. Think of:

- relationship between listening and speaking
- verbal and non-verbal behavior
- how you respond to each other

Ensure careful decision-making

Those who are confronted with problems tend to look for solutions immediately. Too much haste entails dangers: you're no longer open to other possibilities or you're looking for the solution to the wrong problem!

Remember that a good decision is supported and understood by all involved. Suppress your tendency to solve problems immediately! A good decision is made in careful steps.

1. Imaging: the first step:
- view the purpose of the decision from multiple angles
- exchange the available information
- formulate the decision-making procedure
- monitor that procedure
2. Judgment: the second step:
- formulate the requirements that a solution must meet
- assess the possible solutions
- ensure a smooth interaction process
- ask everyone's opinion.
3. Decision-making: the last step:
- choose from the available alternatives
- check the consequences and determine whether they fit within the possibilities
- make agreements about the implementation of the decision
- monitor the interaction process and don't overrule anyone

Consultation effective

Consultation is essential for the functioning of your team. Informal, bilateral consultation is often sufficient. But regular team consultation is essential. Make fixed agreements about this, for example once a week.

Involve people who have something to say on the topic at hand. The consultation stands or falls with involved participants who contribute, but also listen carefully to others. Effective team consultation requires a good and competent chairman. This one:

- prepares the agenda and constantly reviews the meeting against the agenda
- ensures that the consultation is properly organized
- ensures an appropriate distribution of the word
- monitors time and cuts discussions if necessary
- summarizes discussions and draws conclusions

Good consultation also requires a feasible agenda:

- is known to all participants well in advance
- is approved by those present before the start
- can be amended by the participants

Evaluations during each session promote consultation:

- they make feedback easier
- they consist of appreciation and points for improvement

Finally, make an appointment list for each meeting and limit it to actions and appointments.

Handle conflicts

Conflicts will also occur from time to time in the best teams. On the one hand, conflicts take a lot of time and energy. Moreover, they disrupt the relationship and atmosphere within your team. There are also positive sides to conflict.

A conflict doesn't always have to be resolved; as long as they're used! and remember: no conflict without depth. How? We distinguish five styles of conflict management.

Push through

This style refers to a party that only wants to win and doesn't care about the needs and interests of the other party. When the intensity of the conflict increases, the tendency to push through usually increases. This then results in a win-loss situation in which one party wins at the expense of the other. This style is applied when:

- there's an "on or under" situation
- there's a lot of time pressure "pumping or drowning"
- the interests are great
- important principles are at stake
- the relationship between the parties isn't important
- the pushing party is sure of the right
- a quick decision is necessary.

Tackle

In this style, the conflicting parties sit around the table and work together to find a solution that satisfies both parties. This style requires open and direct communication that leads to the resolution of the conflict. The style is applied when:

- both sides must win
- parties want to save costs
- there are complementary skills, parties need each other
- all interests weigh equally
- there's enough time
- there's mutual trust
- learning is the ultimate goal.

Close compromise

This style is also known as "give and take". The conflicting parties negotiate to reach an acceptable solution for both parties. Both parties give in and end up with a certain degree of satisfaction. This style is applied when:

- both sides must win
- there's an impasse
- there isn't enough time to achieve a win-win solution
- it's important to maintain a good relationship between the parties involved
- nothing is achieved if no compromise is made
- a workaround helps
- the interests are moderately large.

Smooth out

This style emphasizes the areas of agreement and the areas of disagreement. This style doesn't always lead to success. One party sacrifices its own interests and goals to safeguard those of the other. The style is applied when:

- there are common (overarching) goals
- one of the parties wants to build up credit for later
- the interests of this party are minor
- there's limited liability
- every solution is good
- harmony is important for the 'giving' party
- otherwise the 'giving' party would lose
- the 'giving party wants to save time.

Outrun

In this style, the conflict is avoided by pushing the problem forward or by withdrawing from the situation. All things considered, it's a temporary solution because the problem and conflict can recur over and over again. This style is applied when:

- the other party is clearly more powerful (the outgoing party can't win anyway)
- the interests are minor
- the interests are great, but the missing party isn't sufficiently prepared
- the elapsed party wants to gain time
- by delay until can be won
- the outgoing party wants to maintain its own neutrality and / or reputation
- the outgoing party thinks the problem will go away by itself
- getting it right doesn't solve anything.

Provide feedback and ask for it

Feedback is essential to learn from each other. Who consciously gives feedback informs the other about his behavior: how it happens and what the consequences are. Feedback is also: expressing an opinion on performance.

Giving feedback is difficult. Getting feedback is sometimes even more difficult. Those who don't receive good feedback can experience this as an attack on their person. Effective feedback requires rules of conduct.

1. To give feedback

- Only mention concrete and changeable behavior
- Keep it personal: don't talk to others
- Make it specific: don't talk in generalities
- Keep it descriptive rather than judgmental
- Link the feedback to concrete examples
- Pay attention to how the other person receives feedback

2. Receive feedback

- Listen carefully and ask questions for clarification
- Don't try to deny, defend or explain
- Investigate how the feedback is useful to use
- Remember that you can ask for feedback.

Starting a project (PSU)

Look before you start. That certainly applies to projects! A Project Start Up (PSU) proves to be a powerful tool to start projects well. A PSU is a structured meeting of the future project organization.

A good start is half the work; that certainly applies to projects! A Project Start Up (PSU) proves to be a powerful tool for getting projects 'on track'. A great effect can be achieved in a short period of time with relatively little effort. A greater effect than if months of energy were put into all kinds of meetings and discussions.

A project Start Up is a structured meeting of the future project team, usually led by a facilitator. Often other project stakeholders (decision makers, clients, heads of department) also take part in this meeting, whether or not ad hoc.

Result of a PSU

The result of a PSU is a draft project assignment. The (intended) project manager submits this to the client for approval. The draft project assignment describes:

- the intended project result (goals / problems, result, demarcation)
- the project road; listing of all substantive activities required to achieve the project result (phases, subprojects and bottlenecks)
- the project management; the management requirements with margins for the risks identified, the detailed plans for the control of Time, Money, Quality, Information and Organization (TGKIO).

How to do a PSU

The following basic principles are often applied when running the PSU:

- the meeting lasts 0.5-3 days and takes place in a conference center (possibly 2 meetings with an interval of 2-3 weeks)
- the explanation of the intended project is provided by the initiator / client
- if the participants aren't familiar with the project approach, the facilitator will briefly introduce the main points
- during the PSU, the various topics (why, what's and what's not) are discussed interactively
- the mutual cooperation and working atmosphere are often discussed in a PSU. The atmosphere is set by the example behavior of the project leader and the facilitator and by the programming
- personal contradictions are noted, but not elaborated during the workshop (the project leader will have to deal with these matters immediately after the workshop)
- the project leader will ultimately take responsibility for the formulation of the first draft decision document
- the report is addressed to the client.

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