The success of any project is highly influenced by the project team tasked with delivering it. Even the best planned projects may fail to meet their objectives if the project team does not perform to the best of their ability. The effective development and integration of the project team is essential in the successes of a project, as it is the project team who will be responsible for delivery of the scope throughout the project life cycle. The following five steps will lead to a winning project team.
STEP ONE – Establish the Team
The first step is to establish the project management team. The best project teams include stakeholders at all levels, from executives to those individuals at the front line. These individuals have the inside knowledge that will be critical to the success of technical experts from external organisations.
The most important element about team composition is having a team that is effective working together. Collaboration and communication skills are two of the most critical personal skills demanded of all members. The ability and willingness to recognise and value the different roles and contributions of team members is essential. Every team needs problem solving, influence, process and compliance behaviours and values if it is to be successful. People possessing those different requirements for group success have very different behaviours and conflict can be a product of their interactions. Team development at the very start of the project should include training in communication skills, and the recognition and valuing of the different behaviours, values and personal skills needed for team success.
STEP TWO – Facilitate Effective Communication
Accurate, useful, timely and credible communication is crucial to maintaining a cohesive team environment and achieving project success. All project information should be communicated consistently throughout each stage of the process so all team members are equally informed. Open sharing of information should be encouraged and a no surprises attitude must be adopted to create a trusting work environment. A variety of communication mediums should also be used. Team members will respond differently to written (email, text, memo etc), verbal (telephone, radio, face to face etc) methods of communication.
Busy schedules and multiple projects can become obstacles to effective communication. Recurrent face to face meetings must be scheduled to encourage ongoing discussions and ensure that deliverables are completed within project time frames.
STEP THREE – Encourage Collaboration
Groups that plan together are typically more successful, therefore project leaders must realise the importance of collaborative planning and goal setting. This collaborative goal setting allows team members to achieve individual successes, while contributing to the overall project goals.
Collaboration is the vehicle which:
- Generates the most creative solutions
- Gets the greatest membership support
- Produces the greatest amount of personal growth
By matching each team member’s incentive to the overall goals, the entire team is motivated further to achieve success. It is also the project manager’s responsibility to manage the team’s development to ensure a cohesive integrated team is founded.
STEP FOUR – Accept and Manage Problems
It should be noted that bringing a group of people together does not necessarily constitute a team, especially not an effective working team. One of the biggest mistakes made by project managers is not recognising this as a fact and then expecting their project team to hit the ground running from day one.
Project leaders are challenged to facilitate relationships among people of very different backgrounds. However, they all share the common goal of the project. Conflict within projects can manifest itself in many different ways but a good project manager will intercept and take action when conflict occurs. Despite the variables that might contribute to project challenges, by communicating team goals and expectations openly and effectively, these barriers can be overcome.
STEP FIVE – Recognition and Reward
A recognition and reward scheme will help reinforce the importance of the key project deliverables and focus the team on the important aspects of the project. Completion of a project and the steps along the way can be very rewarding for team members. Outwardly celebrating these successes can be very motivating for the team. When project milestones are reached, they should be communicated to the project team members and stakeholders. Rewards can come in various forms. They should be established and communicated at the start of the project, as they may impact on other areas to the project, such as cost and time.
The project management team needs to clearly understand the requirements and deliverables of the project as well as being aware of the organisation’s overall strategy, objectives and drivers. It is also essential for the project management team to understand the organisation,s professional and ethical requirements and subscribe to them and ensure that the project complies with them.
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