What makes an Effective Project Team?

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The issues of building an effective team are largely behavioral ones, which is often the forgotten element of project management practices and procedures. These behavioral elements and the consideration of such things are often the elements that distinguish successful project teams from others. There are many studies out there that put a significance emphasis on this, where they identify various team characteristics that when assembled constitute an effective team. Very often behavioral roles need to be taken into account but these are seldom done. You may ask why … because their are constraints on resource allocations, capabilities and often times the delivery point comes before the team composition.

The process of building an effective team is a difficult one, where many barriers may arise from many different sources. An understanding of these barriers can help in pre-empting the problems while also developing an environment suitable to effective project team building:

  • Divergent Outlooks: – Team members may have professional objectives and interests that differ significantly from the project objectives. These can manifest in many ways but are often a gaps in how people / teams are involved in the development of the project and can be deemed as a lack of inclusion in some of the key decisions.
  • Lack of Clarity on Project Objectives: – Project teams with unclear objectives / outcomes produce a number of dysfunctional consequences such as power struggles, destructive conflict between team members, etc.
  • Team Leadership Structure: – Leadership needs to be clearly defined and structure in such that one formal leader exists. This will minimise the conflict between informal and formal leaders and instate credibility within the team.
  • Poor Team Member Selection: – The method by which team members are selected is all important to the functionality of the team on two counts:
    • The correct people are selected from a functional viewpoint
    • When selected, people feel that they are part of the team and not threatened in any way.

Team members when selected should be motivated, prepared for the project and for all types of conflict. Team member must be committed to the project.

  • Communication Problems: – Communication significantly influences effective team development. Four levels of communication that need to be upheld are:
    • Communication among team members
    • Between the project manager and team members
    • Between the project team and top management
    • Between project manager and client.
  • Lack of Senior Management Support: – Poor support from top management will make project team, as well as the project itself, difficult to sustain. Without this, there is insufficient attention to creating the right environment for the project team as it starts to work.

For a team to be effective there is a need for strong, direct and effective leadership within the project team. Each and every project requires understanding and motivation in order to succeed. Without strong project management leadership, project teams will not be effective.

Acts of team building should be seen as an on-going process. The synergy, creatively and innovation that is part of any team comes from continual motivation and constructive feedback. Both qualities are sought through the process of team-building and motivational exercises. An effective project team is made so, by the parts that make up the team and the management, motivation and communication between these parts. This is done so the teams strives and is directed towards the goal of the project.

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