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How To Make Sure You’re Recruiting Team Players for Your ERP Projects

by Dave Hannon

August 18, 2011

By Dave Hannon


There’s a lot of talk about teams in the business world these days. No one works for “departments” anymore, we’re all on teams. And while the term is getting a bit overused in my humble opinion, there’s one situation where I still find the term very appropriate: ERP implementation teams. Perhaps nowhere else in business have I encountered an area where a group really functions as a team, sometimes traveling from country to country together, working on projects side by side, sharing personal time, and covering each other when needed.

So how do you, as a project team leader or CIO, identify these team players when selecting members for an ERP project team? How can you ensure you’re not bringing a “cancer into the clubhouse” (to borrow another overused sports reference)? You want Kevin Youkilis, not Manny Ramirez on your project team (sorry, it’s that time of year here in Boston).

“Soft skills like communication and conflict resolution are key team player characteristics,” says Megan Maguire Kelly of the Project Management Institute. “So is an acute sense of accountability, especially key when working with distributed teams, since project challenges often arise due to language and communication barriers, especially those conducted across different time zones, geog raphies, languages and cultures.”

Bill Ziska, director of CRM at Deloitte Consulting, says it can be difficult to identify team players on paper but asking the right questions in an interview can work well. Ziska says there are some telltale signs that a candidate is NOT a team player. For example, the candidate: 

  • Can’t tell a single story in detail about mentoring another team member
  • Can’t explain how they would defuse a tense situation on the team
  • Tends to use “I” instead of “we” when describing prior project accomplishments
  • Builds no rapport at the beginning of the interview and shares little about their personal life
  • Is not a woman. (Studies show woman are much better team players, they grew up learning it’s more about the team than themselves.)

Along those lines, Ziska says there are some key questions to ask an interview candidate to determine if they are, in fact, a team player.

Q: Tell me about the best project you were ever on and why? (If the candidate talks about the interaction with the team, the bonds they formed, how everyone shared what they knew, it’s a good sign.)

Q: What makes a good working team? (If the candidate emphasizes understanding the different needs of the team, not just skill sets, and how their personal lives, motivations, and career goals are defined, it’s a good sign.”

Q: How would you define your negotiation skills? (True team players understand the larger picture of what’s good for the company, the project, or the team, and negotiate with that in mind. They should show signs they understand it’s not always about getting everythi ng you want, but getting what you need, and compromising where you need to.) 

It’s a fascinating topic. Special thanks to Megan and Bill for their input here. If you’ve got your own suggestions on how to identify team players, feel free to share them here.

For more information:

6 Tips for Accelerating SAP Projects from Project Expert provides some good tips via Francois Estellon, CIO of Bucyrus. “Teams do what’s right for the business, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be popular. The results will win respect, but maybe not a lot of friends.”

Five Things Your ERP Project Team Can Learn from the Boston Bruins (Take particular note of #3 and #5).

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