Team Harmony and its effectiveness in project delivery
Project management is just schedules, budgets and charters, there are the soft skills which need to be considered. A successful project is delivered by a team which works in unison, harmoniously. There are so many variants when working in a team, dealing with egos differing opinions, characteristics, skillsets and more. How does a project manager use soft skills to get most out of the team? The overall mood of the team effects the quality of life of the members, on the way they work, and the quality of what they produce. Each member’s vibe affects the mood of the group. Being on a team with a grumpy and depressed co-worker is no fun, it takes the energy out of work and creates a sense of division.
Working to your audience, and the team are the audience as well as the stakeholders and customers. Feeling the vibe of the team, provides a sense of a place and the people in it. If a project manager has a sensitivity about them then they now deep in their bones what is going on.
Walking into an atmosphere of dull unhappiness, juice or energy is no conducive to team harmony. Normally this is gauged within a physical environment like an office as opposed to the virtual world we are working from these days. Regardless a listless and disenchanted team member can also be determined through a camera.
Just as there are depressive teams, there are teams that exhibit manic qualities, – everyone is frantically moving at top speed, getting things done fast and with no time for a break. Other teams are energized, an aura of satisfaction and happiness pervades their environment.
A team’s mood, its vibe, results from external influences, performance, and the moods and emotions of its members. Manage mood to make sure that it better enables collaboration and individual efforts. Do not leave it to chance or underestimate the impacts of the environment and individual team members’ moods on one another.
Emotions and moods are contagious through a process of limbic resonance, that is the sharing of emotional states between people. Our brain chemistry and nervous system are affected by others and we synchronize with those with whom we have personal and working relationships. It is non-verbal and goes beyond body language and facial expressions to include chemical signals, sounds, and other more subtle signals.
The vibrations we give out are expressions of our moods, states of mind, emotions that can affect those around us who in turn effect our mental state. Mood contagion is not limited to people in shared physical space. A team working remotely may also experience it since tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language operate in virtual environments. Our written communications carry mood and emotions as well.
Our biochemical system is an open system which means that external events effect it. External phenomena, including the moods of others create chemical changes in our brains. These emerge as emotions and moods.
We communicate verbally, through facial expressions and other non-verbal cues, and through more subtle means. The neuroscience and the way we are conditioned by patterns that program our limbic brain, and regulate and revise those patterns is interesting, but beyond the scope of what is being presented here. This relates more to the dynamics of team mood and how to manage it.
The project manager must be sensitive to the mood of everyone with a stake in the project – team members, clients, functional managers and senior managers. Regular and frequent (daily or weekly) monitoring will make it possible to identify problems early, before they have time to fester and emerge as crises. This is particularly important for project managers who are less sensitive to mood.
Team spirit, stress levels and general team happiness are signs of performance health. Generally, a team that is experiencing performance problems is not a happy team. Knowing the subtle goings on helps the project manager to investigate causes and proactively respond rather than react.
Monitoring one’s own mood is as important as monitoring the team’s mood. Individual responsibility to oneself and one’s co-workers includes the self-awareness that enables self-management and effective healthy relationships. Equally important is opening to and learning to trust one’s ability to feel the vibe.
Opening to awareness and the management of one’s emotions can be encouraged but cannot be mandated. To set a foundation for healthy optimal performance, organizations can promote mindful self-awareness and teach people how important it is to personal health and performance. Mindfulness and emotional and social intelligence programs go a long way to make individuals aware of how their emotions and moods effect themselves and others.
The team shouldn’t be brought down by bringing your bad mood to work. Cultivate mindfulness to shield yourself from being affected by the bad mood of others. Learn the skills that will make you more sensitive to what is going on in and around you. Let us know your mechanism to enhance a team’s mood especially during the more challenging times of the project, we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.