As the manager of a project, developing a team that soars should be the first and foremost goal on your to do list. Here, we will look at the three core needs for a successful project team; leadership development (yours), team development, and individual development.
As the leader of this team, it is your job to set the tone. First, let’s talk about your behavior. Maintain a positive attitude throughout the project. Even if the project is facing challenges, your team is looking to you for support. At the same time, stay vulnerable and honest. Admitting what you don’t know can make a world of difference to your team because it allows them to be honest about their inabilities and misgivings. Don’t just say you are trustworthy, be trustworthy. Being trusted isn’t just about knowing facts about others and keeping them to yourself. It is about your reaction to the facts. If people are treated with grace and a genuine care for their best interest, they will certainly trust you to come back when they are having a problem in the future.
A team can be successful or a dud based on your provision. The best thing you can provide for the individuals on a team is competent and effective people. Seeing a room full of eager faces at a kick off meeting will certainly set a precedence of excitement for the project. Be sure that your team members are challenged. Perhaps you find midway through the project that Kim is kickin’ booty and she needs more work. Don’t be afraid to change the assignment for Kim to be sure she feels she is growing as an individual. Later, be sure that Kim is recognized for her accomplishments. Providing recognition is paramount for leaders to build a soaring team. Recognize both individual and team results. Do this often, particularly at the beginning of the project. This sets a positive atmosphere for the meetings, as well as boosts the esteem of the team and its members.
Lastly, be sure you are controlling your atmosphere. You must create a transparent and honest environment from the get go. Check your pride at the door before you even meet with anyone. At the same time, you are the leader of the group, the one that they turn to for advice and decisions, so be prepared to make tough decisions with integrity. Create an atmosphere where people can share ideas without ridicule. But build them up enough so that if their idea is shot down, they are confident enough to handle it. Having an open, honest, confident atmosphere will always win over stuffy, concealed attitudes. It is your job as leader to set the tone and then keep it transparent.
Tuckman hit the nail on the head when he designed the five stages of team development. These are true of every new team, and when the project manager (PM) is aware of these stages, it can help drive the team to where you want it to be. The following chart describes the five stages.
|Forming||Sizing each other up||On best behavior||Natural leaders emerge||Not productive in terms of the project work|
|Storming||Ideas emerge and team members disagree||The way the team will function is chosen||Some conflict between team members is evident||Necessary to establish a cohesive team|
|Norming||Some ideas are rejected||Some ideas are accepted and team moves forward with those ideas||Team members begin to take responsibility for their own tasks||Team begins to look and function like a real team|
|Performing||Begin to work together without interruption and create a smooth flow for accomplishing tasks||Team is motivated towards a common goal||Team members working well together without supervision||Can get to this stage quickly in projects with good leadership|
|Adjourning||Task is completed||Team establishes successes and failures of the project||Team commits to any necessary follow up||(Hopefully) Team celebrates success of a project well done|
It is not your job as PM to prevent these stages from happening, but it is important to steer them through the first three stages quickly so the team begins performing as soon as possible. Applying the leadership qualities listed above will help in this process. In addition, encourage the team to brainstorm in a trusted environment. This puts everyone on the same playing field. If no ideas are shot down, both experienced and inexperienced team members will feel confident in sharing ideas. Sometimes the best ideas come from a novice, since they haven’t been tainted by experiences of failure. Collaboration should be emphasized. The team should be working towards one clear and common goal, with smaller, individual goals celebrated by the team. Support an alliance between cross functional teams by scheduling lunch meetings with these groups. This encourages communication and a sense of sharing amongst team members in different groups. While this section is titled ‘team development’, a lot of this development relies, again, on your leadership as PM, so be sure to control the team environment. If you do, your team will surely be successful.
When you have your one-on-one meetings with the individuals assigned to the team, look for their strengths. It is always good to begin pointing out their strengths and then building on them. You want team members who are self motivated and desire a challenge. Assign people to sub teams based not only on their knowledge, but desire to grow. Remember, experience is not always best. For those who don’t have a lot of PM hours under their belt, encourage their creativity and innovation. Impress on them that they are as important to the team as the more experienced members, and encourage them in their growth and potential. Again, honesty is best. Your transparency will support their timely feedback, be it good or bad news. Have quick one on one check ins to be sure they are enjoying the work. If not, don’t be afraid to make a change. As you know, PMs have to constantly reevaluate and shift in order to drive straight to your goal. So, while this section covers individual team members, again I return to your leadership. It is up to you to be sure your team is innovative, excited, performing and soaring.
-Hey, no pressure though.
Northwest University opened to students on October 1, 1934. It is a regionally accredited institution awarding associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degrees.