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The Practical Project Manager

The place to look for practical solutions to help in the journey of project management

Project Team – How to choose a Winning Team

Success in project delivery is only as good as the project team working on it. It is a very important step during the project planning process. As a project manager, you fully rely on the project team to deliver the project.

What is a project team?

Typically a project team consists of people from different functions and even departments who are put together to work towards a common objective in this case, the project deliverable. It is also critical to note that the project team exists for a defined time, typically the duration of the project. They are disbanded after the project is deemed completed.

In an organization where the project teams are constituted for the project only but the reporting structures are more functional, there tends to be a conflict. In the ideal world, the project team member would be assigned to a project full time and only works on the project.

The reality is so far from this. Most project resources are people who have been in the organization and have a very good understanding of how the project will integrate into the existing environment. Already their job’s day on day activities need attention. When they join a project team, they have to split their time and attention between day-to-day activities and the project activities. If they are undertaking multiple projects, they now have to split their times.

Here’s a couple of tips.

Selecting the Project Team

Review the objectives of the project and define the desired outcome. Once you have that clearly, look for the skill set you need to accomplish project tasks. Leverage on information from previous projects so you can look at the lessons learnt. Now identify the roles that you require and the responsibilities they will take on.

Acquire the Project Team

Now that you have the roles and responsibilities clearly defined, you can now assign people to the different roles. Approach the supervisors of the people and make a request for the individual. Keep in mind that you may be assigned someone else with similar skills.

The Right Mix

It is critical to have the right mix. You need to have a team that can work together. Look for people with different skills as opposed to three people with similar skills. Be wary of superstars. In my experience, superstars don’t work very well with people. They also don’t take the time to understand the project. To be very honest, I would rather work with someone with some experience and the right attitude than someone with tons of experience but the wrong attitude.

Ground Rules

During the kick off meeting, set ground rules. Explain how you intend to run the project and how the team is to play their part. Set out the schedule of what you already know of. For example, agree on meeting frequency, report submission formats and frequency, communication channels and anything else that keeps the team moving in the right direction.

Take the Lead

As far as the project is concerned, the Project Manager takes the lead. Take charge. Set the goals clearly. Ensure they are achievable and ensure the team is clear on what the goals are. Work on status updates that communicate how the team is achieving the goals.  Listen to the team and facilitate. Encourage co-operation, not competition. Learn to hear what is not being said. Read the team.

Celebrate the Achievements

When you achieve a key milestone or resolve a key issue, give credit where credit is due. Let the person know that they have done well. On the converse, discuss where there are issues with the team member’s performance. Use facts and not perception for this discussion. When the project is done, throw an appreciation party, on the Project Sponsor’s budget.

I have been blessed to work with such talented individuals who have been nothing short of amazing. This post is dedicated to you. Thank you for putting your hearts into all we do together.

What issues do you experience with your project teams? Share any lessons you have learnt.

Leave me a comment below or email me at thepm@thepracticalpm.com.

Photo credit:Drew Streib

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