Project Management and Responding to Different Personalities

October 25, 2011   //   SWC Technology Partners, , , , , ,

Mary Beth Rath has managed hundreds of successful projects at SWC. In this blog, she shares some insight on how she effectively manages Microsoft SharePoint project teams with different personalities.

As a project manager we take on the responsibility of ensuring a project’s success. This can involve many activities, like defining project milestones, as well as issue tracking and resolution. However, an area not so obvious is how to work effectively with your team, knowing that each team member is an individual with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses and will succeed in different ways.  How do we as project managers work with different personalities and enable them to perform to the best of their abilities?

I typically start by understanding the team.  This doesn’t require a deep analysis, just some basic questions about each team member.

  • Do they need time to reflect about ideas before having a group discussion or do they benefit from brainstorming with the team?
  • Do they desire a structured approach or are they more creative and flexible?
  • Do they stay focused and deliver tasks as promised or do they get lost in the details of solving problems?
  • Do they lead the team or do they follow a defined path?

Typically you will have some sort of combination of these personalities and responding in different ways will help bring together a cohesive team toward success.  Here are a few key strategies that I use:

Meetings – Define Agendas in Advance

  • An introvert needs time to think prior to a discussion in meeting. Extroverts will be ready for the team meeting either way. Just make sure both personalities get a voice in the meeting, this might require asking the quiet team members direct questions and pulling them into the conversation.

Communication – Review Expectations with the Team

  • Let the team know that saying no is okay. Lead by example, adjust tasks when necessary. This will help avoid resource overload and project delays.
  • Let the team know that asking for help should be encouraged.  Identify mentors when necessary and follow-up, to ensure that progress is being made.
  • Repeat these messages verbally and in written e-mails, continue enforcing this approach.

Reminders – Constant Follow-Up

  •  We all have team members that are way too busy or are procrastinators, both can lead to a delayed schedule. E-mail is not effective enough in this scenario; instead talk to your team members face-to-face.  Ask how things are going, remove road blocks when necessary and confirm that they are focusing on the project’s critical tasks. For some individuals, this will be required multiple times a day.

Constructive Criticism – Give Criticism Privately

  • Even the best team members are human and we all make mistakes. Project managers should acknowledge mistakes when they occur to avoid recurrences. If these situations are discussed in front of the team, the individual might become defensive. Instead constructive feedback should be given in private, this provides the individual an opportunity for dialog about how best to handle situations in the future.

Motivation – Give Credit Publicly

  • This will provide the leaders within the team the motivation to keep striving for success.  Doing this with the entire team present or copied on an e-mail will also encourage the other individuals to follow suit.

Are you ready to start your next project?  Give these techniques a try.  With a few simple strategies and consistency you can affect your team in new ways.