How to Develop Your Project Team

5 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Managing a Project Team

Merely assigning people to tasks doesn’t create a project team. Any good project manager knows that a team is a collection of people who are committed to common goals and who depend on one another to do their jobs. Project teams consist of members who can and must make a valuable and unique contribution to the project.

As soon as you identify your project team members, take steps to define and establish your team’s identity as well as its operating practices. Develop the following elements, making sure your team understands and accepts them:

  • Goals: What the team as a whole and members individually hope to accomplish

  • Roles: Each member’s areas of specialty, position on the team, authority, and assignments

  • Processes: The techniques that team members will use to perform their project tasks

  • Relationships: The attitudes and behaviors of team members toward one another

As soon as people join the team, have them review the approved project plan to reinforce the project’s goals, clarify the work planned, confirm the feasibility of time and resource estimates, and identify any potential problems. Meet as a group to discuss people’s thoughts and reactions, after they’ve reviewed the plan.

Team members who contributed to the proposal can remind themselves of the project’s background and purpose, their planned roles, and the work to be done. They can also identify situations and circumstances that may have changed since the proposal was prepared and then review and reassess project risks and risk-management plans.

New team members can understand the project’s background and purpose, find out about their roles and assignments, raise concerns about time frames and budgets, and identify issues that may affect the project’s success.

Team members commit to your project when they believe their participation can help them achieve worthwhile professional and personal goals. Help team members develop and buy into a shared sense of the project goals by doing the following:

  • Discuss the reasons for the project, its supporters, and the impact of its results

  • Clarify how the results may benefit your organization’s clients.

  • Emphasize how the results may support your organization’s growth and viability.

  • Explore how the results may impact each team member’s job.

Encourage people to think about how their participation may help them achieve personal goals, such as acquiring new skills and knowledge, meeting new people, increasing their visibility in the organization, and enhancing their opportunities for job advancement. Obviously, projects aren’t only about helping team members achieve personal benefits. However, when team members can realize personal benefits while performing valued services for the organization, the members’ motivation and commitment to project success will be greater.

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