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Developing the Management Skills of Project Team Members

written by: Tara Duggan • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 10/31/2010

The competitive global marketplace requires that organizations become more resilient, adaptive and customer-focused in order to survive. Fostering team member education related to valuing diversity, managing performance and handling change enables them to meet the challenge of assuming these tasks.

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    Introduction

    Planboard planning Project managers should encourage team members to take advantage of available classes, workshops and self-paced study alternatives. These management development programs allow team members to transform themselves into strategic planning partners. Project managers can then delegate relevant tasks to qualified team members when they become ready to assume responsibility for these roles.

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    Develop Team Skills in Managing Diversity

    Managing an increasingly diverse set of employees involves handling issues related to age, ethnicity, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, race and religious beliefs. The challenges and problems faced by organizations comprised of diverse populations can be turned into an advantage by project managers who can build teams that value their differences and work together to solve business problems. Developing managerial skills on the team in this area involves building expertise in relationship building, listening, collaborating, influencing and motivating employees. Extensive role-playing exercises as well as coaching and mentoring from senior leaders provides help in responding to the challenge of managing diversity. The Society of Human Resource Management provides tools, tips and educational resources for learning to manage diversity.

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    Develop Team Skills in Controlling and Measuring Results

    As resources become scarce, project managers must respond by allocating budgets only to activities that align to strategic corporate goals. Developing project team member skills in resolving complex issues (such as improving job performance, reducing product defects and improving customer satisfaction) ensures project success and promotes employee career development. Effective training development programs usually feature simulated practice environments.

    Additional resources, such as case studies of actual companies, allow emerging leaders to study successful managers and learn how effective decisions get made. Learning to use executive information systems, such as accounting systems, prepares team members to plan and track daily operations. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides access to free self-paced management courses through its OpenCourseWare website.

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    Develop Team Skills in Managing Change

    Motivating employees during disruptive times can be challenging. Developing the skills of team members to handle change management activities helps these employees prepare for leadership roles. Learning how to plan, communicate and overcome barriers to achieving a new state typically involves role-playing exercises. Qualified team members can help others cope with change by presenting scenarios that reflect actual situations. Role-playing activities allow project teams to learn how to influence others by providing a persuasive argument.

    Taking time away from project work can seem counterproductive but in the long run, emerging leaders benefit from development opportunities. Learning to handle stress, manage a work-life balance and inspire others during periods of change, transition and transformation helps team members to develop their personal effectiveness and style. The Mind Tools website provides tips, tools and resources for managing change.

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    Conclusion

    Allowing project team members to take the time to complete training courses, research interesting topics and propose innovative solutions to project problems provides benefits for the project as well as for each team member's personal career development. Project team members who take advantage of training opportunities typically respond by performing better on the job, displaying more loyalty and job satisfaction as well as inspiring other team members to produce quality results. Project managers who foster project team members' professional development can then delegate managerial tasks to these trained personnel and focus their own efforts on leading strategic activities that ensure the project's successful outcome.

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    References and Image Credit

    • Image Credit: Plan Board Planning (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Planboard_planning.jpg)
    • "Change Management - Change Management Training from MindTools.com." Mind Tools - Management Training, Leadership Training and Career Training - Right Here, Right Now.. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_87.htm (accessed October 30, 2010).
    • "Diversity." SHRM Online - Society for Human Resource Management. http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/Diversity/Pages/default.aspx (accessed October 30, 2010).
    • "Free Online Course Materials | Courses | MIT OpenCourseWare." Free Online Course Materials | MIT OpenCourseWare. http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/#sloan-school-of-management (accessed October 30, 2010).
    • "Learn Conflict Management & Conflict Resolution with the Mid-Management Development Program." Executive Education Programs at Rutgers Center For Management Development. http://www.cmd.rutgers.edu/leadership-management-mid-management-development.html (accessed October 30, 2010).
    • Pettingell, Margaret, and Daniel R. Tobin. The AMA Guide to Management Development. New York: Amacom, 2008.