I recently did a Live Q&A with Colin Ellis in my Facebook group. Are you a member yet? Sign up for the Facebook Project Management Cafe and join in the discussion. We discussed creating a project team culture. You can watch the video or read the transcript below.
Elizabeth: Hello everybody, it’s Elizabeth here, and welcome to today’s Facebook Live Q&A Session Office Hours that we tend to have on a Friday. Regular participants will know that we normally have these on a Friday afternoon, but because today’s special guest is Colin Ellis, and he’s based in Australia, the timezones just don’t work out for him in the afternoon, so we’re moving the conversation to this morning. I will get him to join the Facebook Live in just a moment.
What I wanted to – ah, maybe there is somebody watching. Swipe left to see my viewers, this is the first time that we’ve really done this. I think it just needs a second to catch up. A-ha, here we go, so now I can invite Colin to our conversation and he will, if I press the right button, and we will invite him to take part in the conversation too. While I’m waiting for Colin to click the button, or do whatever you have to do to get the Facebook magic to work at his end, I just wanted to welcome all the new people to the group this week. We seem to have had about 75 people join the group this week, so if you are new here, welcome.
Elizabeth: And welcome to Colin. Hello.
Colin: Hello, hello.
Elizabeth: How are you?
Colin: I’m really good. Let me just put some more lights on, it’s a bit dark in here. Hang on. There we go, that’s better.
Colin: Although I do look better in the dark, generally.
Elizabeth: This week in the Project Management Cafe Facebook group we’ve been talking about team culture and various different bits and pieces, and I know this is something that you’re kind of an expert in, because you’ve been chipping in and answering the questions. How did you get into the whole area of working with teams on culture?
Colin: It’s one of those things, when I first started out as a project manager I was hired because I was good with people and I could create good teams. I guess we’ve all got a particular skill, and way back in ’97 when I first started project managing, that was mine. I don’t know what it was, I was just able to create good teams and I always participated in team sports as a kid, and just managed to translate that to work. One of the things I noticed probably post 2004, when we all went a bit method crazy, was that it’s a bit of a dying art, this creating teams thing. We talk about culture, or as I call it the C-word, we talk about it a lot, but no one really knows. You know, part of the reason why I wrote The Conscious Project Leader was to give people a blueprint on how to create this thing called great teams and good team culture. There’s lots of stuff out there, but no one had ever put it into one place before.
There it is, there it is in all its glory. It’s one of those things that I constantly researched what good looks like, what good should look like, I’ve researched how you do it when you’ve got virtual teams and remote teams, I’ve managed to do that. I’ve done it with different cultures, both within the same country and in different countries, and then constantly evolved this thing called building culture. In a way I’m lucky, it’s just something I’m good at, but it’s just something I’ve researched and carried on being good at.
Elizabeth: Yeah, there’s an element of it fitting, project management as a whole and being able to lead a team, fitting someone’s natural personality, but it is something you can learn, isn’t it?
Colin: Yeah, totally.
Elizabeth: You can improve. If you struggle to lead a team or to do all the team management stuff, what would you say is the top skill that someone who thinks, “Ooh, I’m not very good at this”, what would be the first thing that they could look at to do better?
Colin: The first thing they should do is they should get the team of people together and they should talk about their own personality styles. We call this collaboration, but it’s just a group of people getting together and saying, “Hey, this is how I like to work. This is how I like to receive information, this is how I like to process information”, because really once you’ve that base understanding of each other’s personality, you really can start to work well together. I’m a highly social person, so for me in project management, I was rubbish at planning, like rubbish at planning, when I first started out in project management. I had to shadow someone who was really good at planning to learn that, and so if you’re not good at building teams, maybe if you’re a little bit more introverted, then shadow someone who’s really good at building teams and see what they do.
It always starts with personality. I talk a lot about the fact that we’re in the relationship and communication business, and so everything is built on good relationships, so that’s where people should start, Elizabeth, definitely.
Elizabeth: That’s good. A good tip, yes. There was one question in the Facebook group that I wanted to call out to you, because I thought it was really interesting. It was this one, about, I don’t know if you can see that because it will probably be backwards, “If you could change one thing about teamwork, what would it be?” You’ve seen a lot of different teams, and you see a lot of different dysfunctional teams and very successful, good teams. Some of these people’s comments, the fact that information isn’t being shared within a team and they wish that there was more openness and transparency, and people were kinder to each other.