Barriers To Project Team Development

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Most people within project-driven and non-project-driven organizations have differing views of project management. Table 5-1 compares the project and functional viewpoints of project management. These differing views can create severe barriers to successful project management operations.

The understanding of barriers to project team building can help in developing an environment conducive to effective teamwork. The following barriers to team building were identified and analyzed in a field study by Thamhain and Wilemon.7 They are typical for many project environments.

Differing outlooks, priorities, and interests. A major barrier exists when team members have professional objectives and interests that are different from the project objectives. These problems are compounded when the team relies on support organizations that have different interests and priorities.

Role conflicts. Team development efforts are thwarted when role conflicts exist among the team members, such as ambiguity over who does what within the project team and in external support groups.

Project objectives/outcomes not clear. Unclear project objectives frequently lead to conflict, ambiguities, and power struggles. It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to define roles and responsibilities clearly.

Dynamic project environments. Many projects operate in a continual state of change. For example, senior management may keep changing the project scope, objectives, and resource base. In other situations, regulatory changes or client demands can drastically affect the internal operations of a project team.

Competition over team leadership. Project leaders frequently indicated that this barrier most likely occurs in the early phases of a project or if the project runs into severe problems. Obviously, such cases of leadership challenge can result in barriers to team building. Frequently, these challenges are covert challenges to the project leader's ability.

Lack of team definition and structure. Many senior managers complain that teamwork is severely impaired because it lacks clearly defined task responsibilities and reporting

7. For detailed discussion see H. J. Thamhain and D. L. Wilemon, "Team Building in Project Management," Proceedings of the Annual Symposium of the Project Management Institute, October 1979.

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Project Management Made Easy

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