Colin Ellis – How to Create a Project Team Culture

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Colin Ellis and I recently conducted a Live Q&A in my Facebook group. Are you a member? Join the Facebook Project Management Cafe to join the discussion. We discussed the importance of creating a culture for project teams. Below is the transcript and video.

Colin EllisElizabeth : Hello everyone, it’s Elizabeth here. Welcome to today’s Facebook Q&A Session Office hours that we usually have on Fridays. Regular participants will be familiar with the fact that these sessions are usually held on Friday afternoons. However, Colin Ellis is based in Australia so the time zones don’t work for him in the afternoon so we’re shifting the conversation to today. I will ask him to join the Facebook Live in a matter of seconds.
What I wanted to do was – ah! Maybe there is someone watching. Swipe left to view my viewers. This is the first time we’ve done this. It just takes a moment to catch up. We’re done! I can now invite Colin to our conversation. If I press the right button, he will also be invited to join the conversation. While I wait for Colin to click that button or do whatever it takes to get Facebook magic to work, I wanted to welcome everyone to the group this week. We have about 75 new members to the group this week.
Colin: Hello.
Elizabeth: Hello Colin. Hello.
Colin: Hello, hello.
Elizabeth: How are things?
Colin: I’m really great. Let me turn on some more lights, it’s getting dark here. Hang on. We’re getting there.
Elizabeth: Wonderful.
Colin: I look better in the darkness, generally.
Elizabeth: This week, we have been discussing team culture in the Project Management Cafe Facebook Group. I know you are an expert in this topic because you’ve been answering questions and contributing to the discussion. How did you get started in the area of working with teams to improve culture?
Colin: It’s one thing that I remember. I was hired as a project manager because I was good at people and could build good teams.
I think we all have a special skill and that was mine when I started project managing in 1997. I don’t know the exact reason, but I was able to build good teams as a child and then translate that into work.
One thing I noticed, probably after 2004, when we all went a little method crazy, is that creating teams is a dying art. Culture, or as I refer to it, the C-word, is something we all talk about a lot. But no one really knows. The Conscious Project Leader was written partly to give people a blueprint for creating great teams and a culture of teamwork. There is a lot of information out there, but nobody has ever put it all together in one place.
It is there, in all its glory. It’s one thing that I have researched constantly. I’ve researched what good looks and what good should look. I’ve also researched how to do it with remote teams and virtual teams. I’ve been able to accomplish that. I have done it with different cultures in the same country as in different countries and then developed this thing called building culture. It’s something I’m fortunate to be good at. But it’s something I’ve continued to study and improve upon.
Elizabeth: Yes, there is a part of it fitting, project managing as a whole, being able to manage a team, fitting someone’s natural personality. But it is something you can learn.
Colin: Yeah, totally.
Elizabeth: You can always improve. What would you say the best skill for someone who struggles to manage a team?