Team Management Skills for Project and Program Managers [Book Review]

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Melanie Franklin asked me about my blog when I met her earlier this year. “At the moment it is mainly about holiday and handbags,” she replied. It was true.
Melanie didn’t look impressed. A colleague tried to rescue my life. She said, “I love that you are aware of what’s happening elsewhere.” It was too late to make an even better first impression, I believe.
I learned that it was always, always important to keep your elevator speech in your handbag. It can be pulled out at any moment and used immediately. Self-deprecating humor can work in certain situations, but it doesn’t work when the person isn’t actually your friend.
I also learned that I worry too much about what other people think. I may have misread the situation entirely – I didn’t even know her.
Although you won’t learn much about Melanie and her co-author Susan Tuttle, their book Team Management Skills For Project and Programme Managers has a few extra pages.
Both have impressive CVs which make them well-qualified to write about project management. To cap off their own expertise they have interviewed an unspecified-but-significant amount of people to add some ‘real life’ experience to the book.
The acknowledgments section is the only place where you will find out that this is a book. It is referred to as “this publication” the rest of the time.
The text’s main bulk is approximately 70 pages. It is printed in columns with lots of white space and figures to illustrate key points.
I had to switch to a square handbag (sadly, my Radley bag can’t hold more than a paperback novel) in order to take it on the tube. But that was okay: it’s quick and easy to read, and it didn’t take me many journeys to get to the end.
Structured around a case study
The introduction is the first section. The second section explains team management in context of programme and project teams. The third section focuses on effective team management during the project’s lifecycle.
As you would expect from TSO, the book draws its terminology from PRINCE2(r), and MSP(r). This means that you will find signs throughout section 3 indicating that this particular team management skill applies at this point.
The third section is based on a fictional case study. This section also contains little boxes with quotes from program and project managers. It helps to make the content more real.
Although team management is a common concept, the material is written in a practical manner. This makes it easy to remember some things you might not be aware of, or overlook, especially if you’re busy. One example is the importance of building relationships with your team. Franklin and Tuttle agree:
Sharing confidences is a key ingredient in building relationships. It doesn’t have to be work-related. Even getting to know the way someone drinks their coffee is a step towards building relationships. The team leader must be willing to spend the time with these activities. This includes one-on-one time with each member of the team. All those interviewed for this publication noted how time was needed for this ‘getting-to-know you’ step. They also need to allow meetings to have plenty of’socializing’ time so that people can exchange information and have time for conversations, which they don’t have as often at their desks.
The book covers all aspects of the team lifecycle, from project initiation (when you will need to focus on team building and managing expectations if your project bid is unsuccessful) to project closure and decommissioning.
The appendices provide a basic overview of meeting facilitation, delegation, time management, as well as the stages involved in managing them.