Project success starts at the team level. Equally as important as workplace technology and ample resources, good project management team building allows managers to assemble teams that work together to overcome obstacles and work efficiently to meet deadlines. But what makes a team excel, and how do you build the perfect team to guide you through all the stages of your project?
Why Team Building Is Important
As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone works towards reaching your project’s goals. Teams unable to work cohesively struggle to do this, either because of dissonance between members or from lack of direction. As a result, tasks don’t get completed on time, the quality of work begins to decrease, and there’s often a breakdown in communication between management and team members. Even ample resources and the latest project management technology is hardly enough to save a project failing because of poor team development.
Of course, that’s not to say that any team is without its challenges. Common barriers that inhibit team development include:
- Different interests, priorities, and professional goals between team members
- Conflicts arising from ambiguous team roles and responsibilities
- Unclear project objectives
- Team members competing for leadership positions rather than working together
As you can imagine, these barriers can cause a lot of long-term problems that decrease team efficiency and reduce the quality of work. For this reason, it’s essential for project managers to cultivate a good team that works well together and complements one another.
First Things First: Get to Know Your Team
Before you can assemble a high-performance team, you need to first get to know your team members. Once you understand what motivates them and get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to reduce micromanagement and delegate tasks more effectively.
This will make it easier for you to get to the root of any problems that arise, effectively removing any friction before it causes any major project setbacks.
One way to achieve this is by hosting informal events, either in-person gatherings or virtual meetings for remote workers, where team members can get to know each other in a casual setting. Not only will this help you get a better feel for the personalities of team members and help you become a more authentic and empathic manager, it will strengthen the bond between team members.
Play an Active Role in Team Management
So, how do you build an all-star team capable of overcoming obstacles and reaching goals?
It starts with you, the project manager. You need to adopt an informed decision-making approach that solves problems by looking at the context in which they exist. In other words, a good project manager knows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to project management. Instead, they carefully consider externalities which may influence various tasks or the progress of the project.
Not only does this approach help keep projects moving forward, it also establishes the manager as a capable leader and the voice of authority, which can empower team members to work more confidently.
However, playing an active role doesn’t mean micromanaging your employees. The whole purpose of project management team building is to empower team members, enabling them to work independently when needed. When you’re actively managing your teams, you should focus on the following three things:
- Maximizing inclusivity. Create a transparent workflow that keeps everyone connected throughout the project’s journey. Not just you and the team members, but the stakeholders as well. Do this by maintaining an open channel of communication, providing important context related to projects and individual tasks when necessary.
- Reaching outcomes. Don’t spend so much time focusing on deadlines that you and your team forget the scope of your project. Meeting deadlines is important, but so are the goals of your customers and/or stakeholders. Have your teams focus on delivering those outcomes, then prioritize deadlines. After all, making your deadlines means nothing if your tasks didn’t achieve what they were intended to.
- Empowering your teams. Again, you want to encourage team members to become self-starters. Consider including them in the project planning phases, so they have a better idea of the project’s goals and intended outcomes. Trust team members with some responsibilities, allowing them to make informed decisions in their areas of expertise. That way, you don’t have to spend as much time micromanaging.
Your Teams Need to Know What’s Expected of Them
Sometimes, projects experience unnecessary friction even when the resources and tasks are adequately managed. Often, the reason for this has less to do with how the project’s being managed and is more about the leadership skills of the manager.
Just as important as meeting deadlines and tracking resources, project leadership is a key ingredient for building a high-performance team. Without it, most projects descend into chaos as team members have no idea what’s expected of them.
A manager with good project leadership skills energizes and empowers their team members by doing the following:
- Establishing accountability. Every team member should know what tasks they’re responsible for fulfilling.
- Assign clear-cut roles. Every worker needs to know the role they play within the team. It should be abundantly clear who the junior members, team leaders, and supervisors are.
By performing these actions, you’re able to clear up any ambiguity related to your team members’ responsibilities and duties. And once your workers know what’s expected of them, they’ll become better equipped to make informed decisions on their own, rather than freezing tasks until they receive direction from you.
The Actionable Approach to Effective Team Building
To recap, good team building is achieved by managers who go the extra step to help their team succeed. Instead of simply delegating and monitoring tasks, the project manager works to build the confidence, decision-making skills, and agency of his or her team. Here are some ways you can adopt the principles of project management team building with your workers:
- Encourage your team members to make important decisions, but first teach them the importance of evaluating multiple options before following through with their decision. That way, they’ll make choices without being clouded by emotions or uninformed perspectives.
- Coach your team. Give feedback at the end of milestones; provide them with alternatives when they make a mistake.
- Gain the trust of your team members by negotiating on their behalf to stakeholders when something goes wrong.
- Get your team more involved in the project, from contributing in the initial planning stages to providing advice and direction once the project has commenced.
Ultimately, building a highly-effective team requires communication and input from all parties involved. While this may sound challenging for teams working remotely, collaboration tools make it easy to communicate and work together online. That way, everyone involved knows their goals and responsibilities.