People like to dismiss project management methodologies (PMM) as frivolous techniques that won’t really improve their business’s productivity. While they’re wrong on that account, they actually miss the point completely.
What people don’t realize is that PMMs are more than just process-improvement tools. Project management is really about changing attitudes to create a trusting, collaborative company culture. By adopting practices that encourage communication, unity, and openness, a company can instill positive values within itself and become a great place to work.
We’ll take a look at how companies can use project management methodologies to unify teams and encourage collaborative attitudes for a better work culture.
Stay Synced With Daily Standups
When teams don’t communicate well, collaboration becomes impossible. Danish company SoftwarePeople learned this the hard way when they opened up a remote branch in Bangladesh. Within a few weeks, they noticed a culture of mistrust and blame divided its Bangladeshi and Danish developers. Communication was lost between time zones, tasks fell through the cracks, and work came to a standstill.
To bridge the rift, SoftwarePeople put Bangladeshi and Danish developers on a global team and instituted daily standups to discuss problems. All of a sudden, discussions focused on improvement instead of blame for bad code. Collaboration boosted, and SoftwarePeople found itself consistently shipping code within 5 – 10 business days.
- Include office and remote team members. Incorporating remote people into teams with office members prevents feelings of isolation which lead to the mistrust and disengagement that plagued SoftwarePeople. If timezones are an issue, try using our Done lists for asynchronous check-ins.
- Focus on improvement. Daily standups are a great way for teams to air grievances and highlight problems. But dialogue should focus on what people can do to improve their situation, not just dwell on fault and weaknesses.
- Discuss common goals. Touching base every day about shared problems will build solidarity and trust within your team.
Checking in on a regular basis helps team members keep the big picture goal in mind instead of living in separate bubbles.
Standardize Project Management Methodologies to Unify People
Without a common system for teams to accomplish goals, every project becomes a huge undertaking. Y-USA, the national office of YMCA, faced this issue when they had trouble supporting all of their project managers in their various projects. Because every project was dealt with on an ad hoc basis, there was no way to track progress for overseers.
The last thing people expected a nonprofit to do was to adapt business management techniques for its own purpose. But that’s exactly what Y-USA did. They replaced “winging it” with a disciplined approach to decision-making by training staff in a data-driven methodology. With a shared process for finishing projects, the staff came together and rolled out a successful new summer camp program which over 10,000 YMCAs adopted nationwide.
Every project will turn into a free-for-all without a standard system in place. Here’s how to create a unifying system your team will want to use:
- Start with a common value. Work with your team to come up with a value to strive for, and mold a process that helps work towards that value. If you align your team’s goals, each member will be self-motivated to work towards them through this new methodology.
- Teach your methodology by assigning real projects. Encourage teams to apply what they’ve learned ASAP. When they succeed in practice, the value of your methods will be proven, and it will build greater trust in the system.
- Collect feedback from your team. You need a project management standard, but you want a standard that works in practice for all its members. Get input from your whole team and fine tune the process to address everyone’s needs.
If teams are going to work together, they need a shared methodology as common ground. A way to check if your process is working equally for all teams is to use I Done This’s three responses for feedback. Dones report what works, Goals show what teams desire processes to achieve, and Blockers let you see why a team has difficulty executing.
Change Culture With Multi-Role Teamwork
The challenge of changing a company’s culture is getting positive values to stick. The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) found itself struggling to serve growing patient needs while money and manpower stayed the same. With 23,000 employees, HUS needed a way for a large body of diverse professionals to all accept cost-efficiency as a major work principle.
HUS trained a diverse pool of leaders from all backgrounds in cost-effective management practices. Leaders brought back what they learned to respective teams, and the entire organization gradually became aware of the culture initiative. Teams began to do more with less: morning delays in operating rooms dropped, and the number of patients discharged before 1:00 PM increased from 10% to 50%.
For deep cultural change to last, you need to align everyone in your business from custodian to CEO. Here’s how:
- Organize mixed-function group huddles. When a department needs to solve a problem, call for a group meeting that incorporates professionals from other fields too. Innovative solutions are best made with perspective from outside the box.
- Have leaders sit in on another team’s huddle. This gives teams insight into each other’s planning processes and keeps knowledge flowing across borders. You can also do this virtually. Use I DoneThis’s Teams feature to allow people from various fields to see each other’s work.
- Plan periodic leadership meetings. Routine, multi-professional teamwork will give leaders perspective on how they can implement your values in their respective teams.
For culture shifts to set in deep, people in all departments need to come together. Encourage cross-functional collaboration to reinforce values through every level of your organization.
Project Managers are Culture Managers
A company’s culture can be simply defined as how they do things. How a company manages the work itself then becomes a cornerstone of its culture. Adopting a project management methodology is more than just choosing a bunch of processes. It’s deciding the prevailing attitudes your team will take when attacking the work.
It’s not wrong to consider PMMs as tools to streamline production. But to not see their potential as agents of cultural change is to cheapen their value. Be sure to pick a methodology that helps you make better product faster. But remember, project management methodologies are great ways to shape a more collaborative, trusting culture too.
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