It’s that time of year again! Whether you are ordering a peppermint mocha in Starbucks, waiting for your flight in an airport or buying gifts at the mall, the sounds of the season fill the air.  (While many of us welcome the feeling of good cheer these joyful tunes evoke, I feel a great deal of empathy for the employees who must endure the same soundtrack for 30-plus days straight.) Along with tidings of good cheer, the holiday music also signals the year is coming to a close.  Now that the tune of Jingle Bells is ringing in your head, let’s look at some of the lessons our World Class™ project teams have learned in 2016.

Don’t Lose Hope—Problem Projects Can Be Turned Around

Even if your project seems to be headed on a downward slope to litigation, claims and all the other nastiness that go along with Problem Projects™, it is possible to change course.  We’ve worked with a variety of project teams this past year to transform their projects into a resounding success for all team members. It’s not always easy, but Problem Projects can be turned around.  It takes commitment from senior leadership in all stakeholder groups, resetting mutual goals, regular follow up and dedication by all.  So never give up hope; your project can be a success despite its current stage or the challenge at hand.

Communication, Communication, Communication

When we ask teams around the country what makes a great project, communication is often at the top of the list.  Everyone knows communication among project team members is critical to their job’s success, but why do many teams fail in their communication efforts, especially with all the technology, means and methods currently available to them?  We find that teams rarely devise a shared protocol on how to communicate that is coupled with a strategy to change the protocol if a specific communication method isn’t working well.  World Class Teams™ form early strategies around email, meetings, text messages, conference calls, etc.

Vulnerability—Ask for Help When You Need It

Vulnerability?  You say I need to express it more? Giving in to vulnerability may sound a little like we are in a group therapy session, but letting others know you need their assistance in certain situations is an important World Class teaming trait.  If you can’t do something, can’t meet a deadline or need help, you should say so.  It is not a failure to ask for help, but it is a major failure to need help and not ask for it. Letting pride get in the way of achieving your project’s goals by not asking for assistance when you need it can adversely affect the project’s budget, schedule and ultimate success, so speak up.  If your partner looks like they need help, ask them, and when they ask for assistance, help them out!  Partners don’t let each other fail.

Delivery Method Does Not Ensure Success

We facilitate many projects that use the latest collaborative delivery methods, Lean Construction practices and virtual design and construction technology.  If most of these tools and delivery methods are based on collaboration and communication, why don’t they consistently produce World Class projects?  A recent study by the GSA concluded it was not the delivery method that determined the success of the project, but rather the ability of the team to communicate, collaborate, make timely decisions and keep things moving forward. In other words, like VCG President Jim Eisenhart said in this recent ENR article, “You can contract for human performance. Those tools make it easier to engage in real time, but teamwork is by no means ensured.”

Set Clear Goals with Dependability 

Google People Operations released a study that reviewed the key dynamics setting groups apart from one another at their company.  Their results confirm that clear goals are important to the team.  But clear goals alone, do not get the job done.  Clear goals backed up with dependability is what truly moves the needle.  Dependability means that you and your team members can rely upon one another to deliver high quality work, on time.  Clear Goals + Dependability = Results.

Active Support from Leadership

It might sound like we hammer on the importance of active support from leadership in your project’s partnering program again and again, but there is a reason for our repetition.  Without active support from senior leadership throughout the life of a project, all bets are off.  What does active support mean?  It means that senior leadership is supportive of the partnering process and they encourage collaboration, challenge decisions and force decisions to be made at the project level.  They stay informed and empower their team members to make decisions without second guessing their choices.  It’s been proven time and time again, that achieving World Class teamwork is dependent upon the support of upper management among all participating firms and organizations.

Let’s continue to work together to build more World Class Teams and projects in 2017!

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