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Doing Project Management Template Work

January 7 2010

Creating Cohesive and Effective Teams for Your Projects

A team is more than just a group of people doing project management template work. It is an assembly of individuals with diverse backgrounds who interact for a specific purpose. An ineffective team has negative attitudes, points fingers, garners grudges and distrust, and is often not well focused on the end goals of the project. These conditions manifest themselves in high turnover and absenteeism, considerable frustration levels, poor communication, and intolerance.

As the project manager, your goal is to avoid those negatives of an ineffective team and build a team of effective members who display the following characteristics:

Characteristics of Effective Teams

  • Acceptance of new ideas and objective evaluation of them
  • Sustained common norms, values, and beliefs without excessive conformity
  • Synergy through mutual support
  • Loyalty and commitment to the project
  • Focus on end results
  • A trusting, open attitude
  • Ability to gain consensus and resolve conflicts
  • High morale and esprit de corps
  • Information and resources sharing

An experienced project manager knows that a team with these characteristics is hard to achieve.  However, there are some actions that the project manager might take to help ensure that his or her team members have, or acquire, these characteristics:
Set the example. The PM not only espouses certain values and beliefs but also exercises them. Be trustful, open and most of all…committed.

  • Encourage communication—oral, written, and electronic. The successful PM knows that communication is more than writing memos, standing in front of a team, or setting up a Web site. It requires sharing information in an open and trusting manner, holding frequent, distributing the critical project info to your team members, and doing everything you can to ensure they are up to speed at all times.
  • Focus the team members on results. The PM directs all their energies toward achieving the vision. Whether he or the team makes a decision, it is made in the context of achieving the vision. The project manager constantly communicates the vision and establishes change control and problem-solving processes.
  • Maintain high morale by garnering the essential team spirit. Empower team members, match the right person to the right task and encourage consensus building.
  • Build commitment to the vision and the project plan. Match people’s interests with tasks, encourage participative decision making, empower people, seek input and feedback, assign people with responsibility for completing deliverables, and keep the project in the forefront of everyone’s mind.
  • Encourage greater diversity in thinking, work style, and behavior. Always mindful of the danger of groupthink, the project manager encourages different thoughts and perspectives. He encourages experimentation and brainstorming to develop new ideas and keep an open mind, seeks task interdependence to encourage communication, and nurtures a continuous learning environment.