Within every organization I have worked in, there has been a process that has been the underlying framework for “successful” project work flow; however, following process alone might not lead to successful project execution. There is a human element that needs to exist when you manage projects, because at the end of the day, you’re not only managing projects, you’re managing a team of individuals as well.
Learning the members of your team’s personalities, as well as your own sometimes can be quite the challenge, but it is a high necessity for all-around success. It is, in my opinion, the responsibility of the project manager to really get to know his/her team, in addition to the process that the team functions within. This is not always an easy task, as available time and location may hinder the PM’s ability to have meaningful and constant interactions with his/her coworkers.
I’ve been a part of multiple types of environments, from all members being located in the same space to being almost completely remote. Though each environment had its respective challenges, the common factor was identifying and learning team members’ personalities or personality traits. Some companies I have worked for have required a personality test and shared results with the greater team, others have merely required the test and only shared results with you, as an individual, and some have not required a test at all.
Based on my experience, incorporating a personality test into the on-boarding process, or taking your team through the exercise provided helpful insight to all members of the team and especially the project manager, who is the glue that holds different parts of the teams together (even an exercise like this one can help shed light on your team’s personalities). Understanding every team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall generalized behavior can facilitate healthy working relationships, serve as an ice breaker between team members, and also provide a sense of validation and confidence to the individuals who have taken the test. If you know that “Sally,” your developer is more of an introvert and may need some help feeling comfortable on a call with the client, as the PM you can help her feel at ease and guide her through the client interaction. If “Joe,” your creative director, needs to have a phone call to go over tasks as a follow up to an email to help him get organized, based on his personality type, as the PM, you can ensure that you’re providing the most productive channel of communication for your team member.
Let’s not forget that you, as the project manager, are part of the equation too! I personally enjoy learning about my team members and how I can interact with them, but my favorite part about taking the personality test is learning more about myself, my interactions with others, and other’s interactions with me. I’ve had the “aha” moment, in the past, of realizing that I was truly the only extrovert on a team full of introverts and everything now made sense! I finally could understand why on a team full of so many people, why I was the only one who felt the need to project my voice! And, instead of feeling ashamed that I tend to speak out more, I learned to embrace these qualities, as they are part of who I am and what makes me tick.
Amy Merenlender, Digital Producer