“Trust Me”

Home The Savvy PM Blog “Trust Me”

102 When I was a child, my family liked to talk about different phrases that we called “famous last words.”  Examples would be comments like, “Hey, watch this!”  or  “I’ve got it all under control.”  Another such phrase is “Trust me.”  Almost anything bad could follow that line.

However, in our project teams, isn’t that exactly what each team member implies by accepting delegated responsibilities?  We expect good things, not bad, to follow that implied “trust me.”  As a project manager, I expect reliability and accountability of team members in achieving their project work packages.  Though trust may be taken for granted or assumed at the beginning of the team relationship, it can be lost very easily once a team member exhibits undependability.  Regaining that trust is an uphill climb!

As we form our project teams and begin to develop the unity and cohesiveness of the team, strive to build trust early.  Issues with reliability and accountability are less costly and disruptive if identified and addressed earlier in the project life than later.  Lead your team in gaining experience with each other and building trust with each other early in the project life.  One technique to apply is team-building.

You know, if you mix up the letters in the word Team to form other words, one word that can result is Mate.  Based on the respective definitions related to project work, these two words are paired together very well:

  • Team – a group of persons organized to work together
  • Mate – an associate, fellow worker, pardner, or comrade

The origin of the word team is related to a set of draft animals that are yoked together to draw, pull, or tow.  Similarly, our project teams are “yoked” or organized to pull together to accomplish the requirements of the project.  The teammates work together, oftentimes trusting and relying on each other for the benefit of the whole.  The team forms a “gestalt,” a unit that is greater than the sum of its individual components, or team members.

This cohesive, unified gestalt does not occur automatically or without effort.  That is where team-building comes into play as an important technique in developing the project team.  Even though experience and trust are built while performing the project activities, get started on the right foot by providing a non-project-related opportunity to build the team.

You may already have many examples of such events.  Keep in mind that the event should involve everyone on the team – minimize the spectator role!  Choose events that do not limit anyone’s participation.

Events in which some challenge may only be overcome by joint effort is also more effective in building unity and reliance on each other.  I have participated in events such as learning to sail a boat that was too large for a single sailor to manage.  And I have lots of stories that evolved from those experiences with my team – stories that helped to bind us together later as we shared memories of the experiences – and the trust we built along the way!

So, what team-building experiences have YOU shared?  Andy, Bill, and I would love to hear about the most memorable and effective team-building event of your life!  Comment lines are open, and we are standing by…