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Project Managers – Developing your Project Team

We discuss establishing your team in our 5 Simple steps to Project Team Success article. However once the team has been established, the key objective is to consider the competencies of the team and to develop and improve upon those skills to enhance overall project performance.

In the first case, the Project manager must acquire suitable skills to firstly identify the skills required, build the project team by motivating the team members by providing leadership and inspiration in order to achieve high performance in order to achieve the project’s objectives.

Teamwork and strong open communication are critical for project success and the project manager must create a suitable environment for this to develop. Conflicts need to be managed in a constructive manner which will encourage collaboration, enhance problem solving and ensure good decisions are taken in a timely fashion.

Cultural and language barriers need to be accepted and team members need to respect each other to develop each other to develop the trust required to deliver the project.

The project manager must seek suitable resources from stakeholders to assist with the development of their team.

Tools and techniques

Good interpersonal (soft) skills are key to successful team development. The project manager and the team members need to work together to recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This will engender good team spirit and cooperation. The project manager needs to be a good facilitator to develop the valuable assets that are the team members.

Focused training is important and this should be based on delivering the technical skills required. This is often achieved by coaching and mentoring and will also be the outcome of performance appraisals.

Formal and informal team-building activities will play a part in bonding the team members and are particularly valuable when the team operates from disparate and remote locations.

Successful teams can:
  • Coordinate individual effort, to tackle complex tasks
  • Utilise the expertise and knowledge of everyone involved, which might otherwise remain untapped
  • Improve and sustain motivation and confidence, so team members feel supported and involved
  • Encourage synergy of ideas to solve problems and spark ideas
  • Help improve communication
  • Raise the level of individual and collective empowerment
  • Support initiatives and change

Develop the project team – outputs

The key output here is having a robust and reliable system for team performance assessments.

Accurate measurement of the team’s performance is important for two reasons:

  • To measure the effectiveness of team-building strategies, training and other investments
  • To measure technical success against agreed project objectives. High performing teams are characterized by task-oriented and results-orientated outcomes.
Further specific and focused training and coaching are a likely outcome from performance assessments.

Managing the project team

This process revolves around monitoring team member performance, motivation and leading the team and resolving issues.

Conflict is inevitable in a project environment and when effectively managed results in greater productivity and improved decision making. Further reading on conflict management and resolution can be found in our conflict and projects article.

The role of the Project Manager is crucial for a successful team and project. The project manager should possess certain qualities.  These can be found in the following post: Top 10 qualities of a Project Manager. In addition to dealing with the team and the objectives and deliverables of the project, the manager also has to communicate and report to his/her line manager. The team and communication must be used to improve the quality of information reported.

Team chemistry and behaviour

The effective performance of a team is dependent on the way the team is able to interact, and draw on the strengths of its members.

People working within a group or team bring to the group two key things. The first is their competency, specialist knowledge, qualifications, experience, etc, which are typically the reasons why they have been hired. These might include: computer skills, joinery, understanding of production techniques, typing proficiency, knowledge of health and safety, and an almost infinite array of other things. This is often called ‘task’ focus. The second is the way they work with and contribute to a group, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the group. This is often called ‘team’ focus.

Things to consider:

Give the team time to develop – allow the team time to get to know each other, take time to clarify the project goals, the individuals’ roles and responsibilities, set some ground rules for the project, and clarify communication channels. This does not always need to be done in a formal manner – run a fun workshop where people can get to meet each other socially but also set some project related outcomes.

The continuous planning cycle – The accurate structuring of a project team will only come about after several iterations through the planning process. This will involve defining and redefining the scope, changing and modifying the schedule, assessing and reassessing resource requirements. It is a continuous process of reviewing and modifying to ensure a realistic and achievable plan.

Different is not wrong, it’s just different – Every team needs diversity – if everyone had the same skill sets and personalities they may all get on well together well but it would not be a well-rounded team. For each weakness we see in someone there will be a strength – try and recognise the strengths within each team member and utilise them effectively.

Communication – Communication is vitally important in all aspects of project management but especially in effective managing and leading of a team. Please read Communication – the key to successful project management.
In conclusion, the project team is one of the vital elements in ensuring project success. Developing the team is not something done in isolation but requires continuous planning involving scope, cost, quality and time.