This Project, at This Time, With This Project Team, for This Client

Too often personality assessments try to identify your profile in an impersonal way.I spent over 40 years as a project delivery specialist, and there remain those project “war stories” that will be forever embedded in my psyche. You too?

Our management team was embroiled in risk management planning / risk identification activities. Passions were running high – which normally I welcome. Passionate team members are committed team members who feel deeply about their craft and their ability to perform well for our clients.

In this instance, however, the team needed to reign in their emotions and come together as a functioning team moving forward.

Our senior executive had a brilliant idea. He hired a personality assessment consultant to work with us for two days. This consultant used the Myers-Briggs personality test as her main assessment tool.

She soon had us slotted into our various personality types. She then informed us what our dominant traits were, and how we naturally dealt with people with differing personality traits. For example, I was “diagnosed” as an ENTJ, and she instructed me as to how I worked with or was viewed by an INTJ, or an ISTJ, or one of the other possible combinations (16 in all).

We left those two days even more frustrated. This time the frustration was not due to our risk planning activities, but rather to the two days of nonsense that we had just endured. Who could possibly remember how our personality type related to the other 15, or to a teammate with the same personality type? Or worse yet, how we related to the other personality types when they were stressed? Not one of us felt that the two days had helped us resolve the teamwork issue (which we eventually resolved on our own).

Please understand, I’m not denigrating Myers-Briggs, or DISC, or any of the other personality assessments that are administered by organizations for their teams. They are valuable tools.

What sticks in my mind, however, is the consultant standing at the front of the room, telling us how successful she had been with this assessment with employees of a large hospital in town, a school district administration, and other organizations. What also sticks in my mind was her inability to resonate with our team.

Some time later I realized what the challenge was for our team. The consultant had a single, cookie-cutter approach, which she used unfailingly regardless of her audience. To her, hospital staff, school administrations, or high-tech consultants were all just widgets to be plugged into her assessment process to arrive at a standardized conclusion.

Maybe it was just our team. But then again, maybe not.

What I learned from the experience, however, was how I would conduct project team assessments. When IT providers or end-user organizations bring me in to assist their teams with project challenges, I approach my work from the perspective of this project, at this time, with this project team, for this client. I have yet to see a cookie-cutter project or a cookie-cutter team or a cookie-cutter client organization for which a cookie-cutter approach will suffice.

Approaching my work in this way reveals those people aspects of project management and/or project delivery that are almost always the source of project challenges.

This project, at this time, with this project team, for this client.

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