Keeping the project team aligned is an ongoing challenge for project leadership. Alignment should be established at project kick-off and needs to be refreshed at pivotal points across the project life cycle, such as when there’s a dynamic increase in personnel, following a move to site, after major personnel changes have occurred, and when de-staffing begins.

Alignment in Action: Project XYZ

This 6.5 mm T.I.C. construction project sanctioned in September 2016, began the transition to site in late Fall 2016. The Leadership Team requested administration of the Project Team Alignment™ (PTA) Survey at the end of February 2017. They hoped to measure where team alignment was strong post-transition, and where improvement was needed.

Results

Team Strengths

Based on the results of the PTA Survey, the TerconPartners consultants identified these strengths in the team:

  • Well being: The highest rated items included good access to decision-makers and a supportive team culture.
  • Individual Commitment to the Team: The highest rated items were pride in being on the team, and confidence that fellow team members were delivering on their commitments.

The quantitative scores and open-ended survey comments reflected team members’ enthusiasm for having arrived at the next phase of the project, as well as an increased sense of being part of something bigger and worthwhile. Obviously, more time together was required in for members of this team to fully coalesce as a true team.

Areas for Improvement

TerconPartners consultants identified the following areas as places for improvement:

  • Conflict: Quantitative scores and open-ended comments indicated a high level of conflict between the Business Services Team and many of the project’s sub-teams. A lack of timely responses to their requests for support was the main issue.
  • Team Communication: Breakdowns in communication between the home office and field was a strong theme, as was perceived “time wasting” in unproductive meetings.
  • Structure & Support: Low scores here related to concerns about lack of common work processes and the adequacy of staffing of Engineering and Procurement for the completion of detailed design documents.

Our Recommendations

TerconPartners recommended the following solutions to team misalignment:

  1. Conflict Management: TerconPartners held interviews with the functional manager and the team’s key customers to determine root causes of failures to meet customer needs. Together, we developed a process for implementing improvements and measuring results achieved.
  2. Team Communication: Representatives from all parties involved were brought together in a series of sub-team meetings to determine the root causes of team communication issues. They designed and implemented quick countermeasures. Additionally, they created and circulated best practices for effective meetings to the project. A Meetings Management training module was offered periodically on-site and virtually.
  3. Structure & Support Issues. A combined task force of representatives from the Owner/EPC/Contractor organizations was appointed to review the concerns and develop and implement a solution. Feedback was solicited periodically to validate progress.

Results

Over a 10-month period, leaders and teams in project areas where problems had been identified engaged in joint problem-solving and solution-implementation. These efforts paid off.

Team performance improved in the three dimensions of concern as reported in the February of 2016 survey results. The composite scores for Ability to Deal with Conflict and Team Communication improved by .40, and Structure & Support by 5.0.

This is not always the case. Sometimes the triggering issue for a low score is complex and requires an extended period of time to resolve, or a solution is not within the control of the project team.

Tercon has found that even when resolution of an identified problem is not within the team’s control, day-lighting the problem and collaborating to lessen negative impacts can still improve team performance and increase the sense that “We’re all in this together.”

Lessons Learned

  1. A primary benefit of this tool is that leadership receives “real time” data on current performance in eight dimensions of alignment.
  2. Identified strengths can be celebrated and reinforced, and potential “red flags” can be addressed before overall project performance is eroded.
  3. People pay attention to that which is measured. On projects where data is updated periodically, team members begin to take ownership of the data and responsibility for improving results. if needed.

See the PTA Survey in Action

TerconPartners has over 20 years of experience using quantitative and qualitative data to align teams an ensure better project outcomes. We have a deep expertise in the energy industry. Learn more about our energy services >