Autonomy and Engagement: Team Building with PRINCE2
Team building, autonomy and engagement are big contributors to a project’s success. Some teams communicate poorly or feel disengaged from their work. There are countless projects that have suffered as a result of this. PRINCE2 has a number of methods aimed at improving teamwork.
Less Senior Management, More Team Management
While team member autonomy may seem at odds with project management, the two often go hand in hand. After all, one of the core principles of PRINCE2 is to manage by exception. This ensures that management is only involved with significant deviations from the plan. Many companies not using best practice may seem more informal and therefore autonomous by their nature. However, there is a risk of senior managers hovering over people’s work. It may not be intentional and it may actually go unnoticed for a long time. But without the kind of safeguards that PRINCE2 provides, there is a risk of team members feeling suffocated.
Of course, there’s more to keeping team members engaged than leaving them alone with their tasks. Team managers have to stay connected with each member. Quality reviews are a great opportunity to find out the concerns that members have. In order to do this, the team manager should regularly chair the reviews. Everyone involved in a project has a different perspective. Often, someone less involved in the day to day activities will chair the review. That can mean problems within a team get ignored.
You can probably trace a lot of these team problems to the root. It’s important to select people with the appropriate skills, but even that is more complicated than it sounds. For example, picking someone overqualified for a certain role might seem like a safe option. But you run the risk of stagnating that team member, and leaving them frustrated.
So, ensuring an engaged and effective team means the right decisions should be made during the selection phase. This goes beyond balancing team members’ technical skills. From Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, “A team consisting only of ‘ideas’ people risks losing focus on the detail of tasks which need to be performed. Conversely, a team made up of only ‘detailed’ people may lack a strategic overview of a solution” (pg. 40). Blending a mix of personality types creates a better-rounded team.
It’s tempting to select teams entirely according to their technical ability. That’s because it’s easier to profile someone’s skills than their character. However, the extra work that goes into really understanding the team members will pay off. Once you identify strong communicators for example, team selection becomes a lot easier.
Allow for Mistakes
While the right team selection can minimise mistakes, you can’t expect them to be eliminated entirely. One of the core principles of PRINCE2 is to learn from experience. That’s why we encourage the use of lesson logs, so everyone can learn from previous projects. Documenting errors is not just key to project success. It’s also beneficial for team chemistry. PRINCE2 utilises mistakes rather than hiding them. This creates a fault-tolerant atmosphere where people feel free to share problems they’re having. Many work atmospheres are more hostile and encourage team members to hide their mistakes for fear of punishment. However, when you hide mistakes, you often hide the lessons behind them.