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Cloverleaf + LiquidPlanner Webinar: The Power of People

Once the project is defined, tasks are delegated, and deadlines are set, the real work can begin: managing the people part of a project.

Managing your team, as well as their individual communication styles, skills, quirks, and motivations, can be a huge undertaking. It’s always nice to spend a little time on how to make that a smoother endeavor.

That’s why LiquidPlanner recently partnered with Cloverleaf, a personal and team development tool, on a webinar to go over just that: the people part of project management.

Cloverleaf CEO Darrin Murriner discussed what makes a successful team, as well as techniques to improve team performance.

Cloverleaf CEO Darrin Murriner

At the end of the webinar, we were flooded with questions for Darrin to answer. Here are some of our favorites:

How do you suggest asserting authority when managing an external project for a client? For instance, the client keeps missing deadlines, ultimately impacting the success of their project?

This is a complex question, and I have been on both sides of this equation. You likely have a counterpart (project manager or business sponsor) from the client side that may be subject to resources out of their control. When I have seen this conversation go well, with positive changes occurring to get things back on track, it has taken a great relationship between the client and vendor leaders.

These leaders must have the right levels of authority over key resources and the political will (internally) to potentially go above managers or key resources that are standing in the way. It is likely a senior leader’s strategic priority and if they truly knew what was happening to timeline or budgets, they would want to act. The key is knowing how to navigate that complex communication challenge and what it will take to move your audience to action.

When you are thinking about bringing the whole team together (say 7 to 12 people), what is the suggested frequency for whole group discussions vs. smaller sub-group discussions?

It really depends. We like having a daily standup meeting to make sure there is open communication and accountability. The key with these types of meetings is establishing trust, but you have to work hard to make sure the meeting is focused and doesn’t become an open-ended forum. Other points where all-team meetings are important is when there are major updates or decisions that will impact the project plan. Otherwise, take the temperature of the team and if you feel like energy is waning or there is more conflict than usual, a more focused team-building meeting may be in order.

You can also lean on your project management tool to facilitate communication.  For example, LiquidPlanner enables easy communication between team members within the context of each project. This cuts down on the need for constant meetings. When meetings are held, they don’t need to focus entirely on status updates because those updates are contained in-app. The focus of meetings can be major decisions, rather than updating the team on project statuses.

How do we measure impact of team dynamics as a starting point?

There are a few ways this can be measured, depending on metrics that are used by your organization. For more productivity-related measures, you could look at function points, defects, or actual to budgeted hours. Qualitative measures could be any engagement stats that are available. Unfortunately, most organizations are only measuring engagement every 1 to 3 years, and they are only aggregating that data at the department or division level. A good way to get a measure of this would be to use a “Happy or Not” survey tool on an iPad in your team area. The best thing to do is just pick a measure or two, set a goal, and find a way to take regular data points on your progress.

Is it realistic to perform a personality profile for each project team. Is there a protracted way to accomplish this?

There are a lot of free and simple to complete ways of getting a profile of your people. Cloverleaf is built to be intuitive and simple and results are provided for managers in a way that makes it relevant for how people on the team interact with each other.

How do you handle the “dark and stormy” personalities that are reluctant to give updates on projects? How can I encourage them to answer more than the bare minimum?

While you might not be able to change their outlook, you could possibly be more explicit with what you expect in an update, and then give them time to prepare the update. I am assuming that these are more introverted-sensing individuals who are not verbose and not so intuitively inventive with what to share. Our toolset offers very specific guidance, but without knowing a little more about the specifics of how they work, I would start with clarity on your expectations of what they communicate in their updates.

Can you explain a little bit more detailed about creating rhythms for your team?

We think of rhythms as routinizing those activities that make your team not only productive, but also creating ways for your team to build relationships. For example, we extended our normal stand-up on Wednesdays by 20 minutes and made it more open and free-form. People are able to list topics they would like to discuss, and it typically creates an opportunity for everyone to get out of the weeds once a week and make sure we are all pulling in the same direction. One meeting we talked about standards in response to a recent story about and allowed everyone to talk about what standards meant to them and what standards we wanted to adopt. It helped us create a common language and get buy-in from everyone on the team.

Ready to learn more about the power of people? Watch a recording of the webinar here.

Devon Barnhard is a marketing manager at Cloverleaf, a personal and team development tool. 


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