Strengths, Weaknesses and Preferences


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Strong teams don’t just happen. They are made. Program managers have responsibility for teams on multiple levels and have to make sure that project managers are capable of building strong teams.

Our 6 part guide to Team Building at the Program Level will help you put together the team you need to fill skills gaps, meet goals and exceed stakeholder expectations.

Part 1 of 6: Identify Teams
Part 2 of 6: Know Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Preferences
Part 3 of 6: Drive Change through Retreats
Part 4 of 6: Use Performance Appraisals in Program Management
Part 5 of 6: Use Recognition Activities for Individuals and Teams
Part 6 of 6: Deal with Breaches of Program Integrity and Ethics

Part 2 of 6: Know Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Preferences

An important prerequisite for team building and leadership is to “know thyself.” Therefore, always take advantage of every opportunity for self-assessment, be it personality profiles or 360-degree feedback studies. Don’t discount what the self-assessment tells you. Don’t be disturbed by your faults, because you are human and everyone has faults. Knowing your faults is critical because it allows you to compensate for or mask a fault to minimize its negative impact.

Encourage Team Buy-In
The desire for control is a common challenge for an experienced program manager. It is important to realize that already knowing the answer or the plan of attack for a problem is actually a handicap when it comes to establishing team buy-in on the solution or the plan of attack. It may seem expedient to just tell your team the answer, but you must carefully guide them in a way that allows them to find the answer themselves. To do this, call a meeting, frame the problem you already know the answer to, and ask a few strategically placed questions that enable the team to find the answer. The solution they propose is then their answer, not yours. Sometimes they may come up with something different, and that is okay even if you don’t consider it optimal. To build strong teams and strong personnel, the program manager has to accept that everything may not always be perfect. Additionally, a program manager who always has time to tell the team what to do is probably ignoring his or her own program management duties. Delegation creates buy-in.

Handle Failure Positively
Willingness to accept the occasional failure is a critical element in establishing a positive and proactive program culture, and the program manager sets the tone for the way the organization handles failures. When people are chastised and blamed for poor decisions, they are less likely to make timely decisions in the future and are more unlikely to make aggressive decisions. This contributes to ineffective teams and slows the organization’s decision-making processes significantly. As a program manager, you need to liberate your project managers to make aggressive decisions even if they are occasionally wrong.

Acquire Complementary Skills
Preferences often dictate our strengths and weaknesses. At the program level, you want to make sure that you have people on your team who complement you and complement one another. The program manager has to be strong and confident enough to surround himself or herself with complementary people.

This also means that the team environment will have more turmoil because there will often be a diversity of opinions or operational preferences. Be prepared to allow a certain amount of wave making and fruitful discussion. Only insecure program managers try to do everything themselves and/or surround themselves with people who think the same way they do.

The power of self-assessment is that you can establish a plan to hone your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. Then you can assess your progress over time.

Create Followership
A strong team is committed to the team goal and the team leader, and when it comes to followership, the “why” question plays an important role. Your role is to reiterate the vision as well as to express why and how the tasks and the current plan relate to that vision. Additionally, the program manager must make sure that project managers understand the vision and the why and relate that information to their project teams.

Program managers are challenged to develop a stable culture in a dynamic and changing environment. Crystal-clear communication of the program vision is an anchor that helps stabilize the program culture. Never assume that people will remember the vision and the overall purpose of the program, the project, or their task. People get so wrapped up in their near-term deliverables and challenges that the overall vision and purpose is often forgotten even when it is a key element of the decision processes that must take place on a daily basis.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.