4 keywords for effective teamwork

What 4 keywords for effective teamwork would you consider the most important?  Have you stopped to think about the important aspects that do make up effective teamwork?  Here is what one National Hockey League coach in the USA has as his top for keywords.

Whilst those of you in Australia might never have seen an ice hockey game, to those in America and Europe it is part of their sporting regime, whether you’re a fan or not.

In October this year, just prior to the opening of the 2014/2015 National Hockey League (NHL) season commencement Patrick Roy, the coach of the Colorado Avalanche held a press conference.  What he said about team work was just as important for a project team as it is for a sporting team, so I want to share the four keywords that he used during that conference.


The coach of a sporting team has to be working in partnership with each and every player on the team otherwise there is no cohesion, no sense of ‘team’.  This is clearly what happens when you see stand out single players, who if they are injured create a gaping hole in the team.

What’s so different about  a project team?  The Project Manager (PM) needs to work in partnership with each and every team member of the project team ensuring that there is clarity of purpose; a feeling of cohesion and support for the person, the team player.  The PM needs to create that sense of ‘team’ that is there in the sporting codes.  Without this, the work doesn’t get delivered in the best and most efficient way.

With it, there is unity, strength, a direction and clarity that means that everyone is focused on the one purpose of delivery.  Delivering a win!


Trust on the hockey rink has a big part to play in the effectiveness, speed and efficiency of the team.  With trust that split second makes the difference between a score and not.  Players work hard on the ice, knowing and trusting that they have the support of each and every other team member on the ice at that time.  The Goalie trusts that his fellow team members are going to back him up, and support him in the defence of the goal.

Stephen R Covey talks about trust in this way. “When trust is up, speed of delivery is up, and costs decrease.  This results in dividend.  But when trust is down, speed of delivery is down, costs increase and this results in a loss”

This analogy works just as equally with the project team and project manager as it does with the hockey team.

Trust between the team members increases the speed of delivery and decreases the overall time on delivery, and therefore costs.  When this isn’t occurring there are time delays, (speed is slowed), which increases resource costs and therefore loss to the organisation or project.

Covey says “People want to be trusted” so how as a PM can you grow the level of trust within your team, such that they are performing like the championship hockey team?


The members of the Colorado Avalanche hockey team respect Patrick Roy as a person, as a player and as their coach.  I can see it in the way that they talk about him.  The way that they interact with him.  Respect is also evident in the way that they interact with each other, the other coaching staff, and the other players on opposing teams.

It plays a large part in the professionalism of the sport.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen the same level of respect from team members on a project team.  There are the same difference in personalities on the hockey rink as there are on a project team.  So, why then should it be any different?

If you respect yourself, and respect others for who they are, and what they bring to the team, then you work as one, no matter what occurs.  When a player is injured, or more than one of them, replacements are bought in.  This is no different to additional or replacement staff being transitioned into a project team.  It doesn’t mean that respect is not shown to these new individuals, just as much as those already ‘on the team’.


On the hockey rink, communication is critical, due to the speed at which the entire game is played.  Without it there is chaos.  Sound familiar?

Communication to a project team is one of the key lynch pins in ensuring that everyone is playing on the same side, aware of what is occurring, kept up to date with changes, and shifts in expectations.

In previous posts I have spoken about the strong need for communication by the Project Manager and each and every team member to ensure that the outcome of the project is the best that it can be.  Same as on the hockey rink.

So, whilst many of you won’t know Patrick Roy, listen to his words as the coach of a team, and follow his lead when next you’re ‘coaching your team’ to get the best from them.




Written by Karen Munro a Prince2 Project Manager and Prosci certified Change Manager, and also an avid Avalanche fan!

*Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net