Develop Project team

May 28, 2010

Developing the project team is all about developing the competencies, interaction within the team and overall team environment so the team operates in a way to ensure project success. Project managers must have to start with or develop the skills that lets him identify, build, maintain, motivate, lead and inspire to create a high performing team and thereby ensure the success of the project.
Assuming a manager is the facilitator for the team, this particular trait of a manger becomes even more important to create a fine tune, sharply focused high performing team. It is the job of the manager to facilitate an environment that nurtures teamwork. Some of the efforts needed to provide constant changes and motivation for the team are constant feedback about performance, providing support, providing positive reinforcement in the form of reward and recognition. Respect through proper communication and listening to the team members suggestions, collaborative problem solving etc are some elements in management that can help team building. In a virtual team situation or even in a real team environment you may be managing a multi-cultural team which can prove to be challenge in effective communication. The ability of the team members to be independent yet work in an inter dependent manner is absolutely important. The manager needs to be able to foster this kind of environment effortlessly.
Some of the team building goals could easily be improving the skills and knowledge of individual team members for efficient execution of the project. Improve trust and team spirit to encourage that independent yet interdependent way of work.
The process: Project staff assignments, project management plan and the resource calendars are the inputs used in this team development process. The tools and techniques one could use include Interpersonal skills, team building, training, ground rules, co-location, recognition and rewards etc. Team performance assessments and updates to the organizational environmental factor document are the outputs that get generated pout of this process.
Team developments starts with identifying the team members. This clarity comes from the staff assignment document. This is the document that clearly identifies the specific personnel that work on each role in the project. The project management plan is the master document that guides everything. However, the human resources plan within that plan is the guiding document for the development plan too. This will contain the training strategies and plans to develop the team. Rewards, feedback, additional training, disciplinary actions are added to the plan as influenced by the periodical assessment outcomes. These may be influenced by the outcomes of other team management activities too.
Resource calendars help in the team building activities, by letting you know when specific team members may be available for such activities.
Team Building: Creating a high performing team develops in stages. Organizational theory says that the preliminary collection of people becomes a performing team only after the group goes through the forming, storming and then norming stages. The forming stage is when the individuals meet and they are told of their individual roles and responsibilities. This is a stage where each is more of an individual and are kind of independent.
In the storming phase the individuals start to address project work and bit of a stormy phase may ensue until the members settle into their roles and individual frictions start to come down. If this stormy phase continues or does not settle down then project outcome can become risky.
In the norming phase working relationships take place and the team starts to work together. Then comes the performing stage where the team has formed already and is working as an unit, individual quirks have been worked out.
The final phase of the team development is the adjourning, of course. At this time the team members have completed their work and the depart for newer assignments. Project managers need to be aware of this dynamics that is involved and ensure no stage takes unnecessarily long time, particularly that the storm passes over quickly. Trust and good working relationships are very important; particularly so, when team may contain members who do not see others face to face. Any activity including non project work that encourages working together is good for team building. Many organizations try even such activities like river rafting in difficult situations.
Interpersonal or the so called soft skills are important as they act as the grease to ease the interpersonal frictions. Training in these areas as well as other technical areas may be called for in building a team effectively. Stating clear expectations, particularly in terms of interpersonal behavior is also useful. As with any other social group the team tribe then enforces this behavior amongst each other.
Co-location is an useful tool too. This is just keeping the team members together so that they are available at each others vicinity. Team members are able to walk over to someone they need to discuss any issues with.
Recognition and rewards are tools to positively reinforce desirable behavior. What really makes sense can be moderated by situations prevailing at an organization.

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