A major problem faced by many project leaders is managing the anxiety that usually develops when a new team is formed. The anxiety experienced by team members is normal and predictable, but is a barrier to getting the team quickly focused on the task.

This anxiety may come from several sources. For example, if the team members have never worked with the project leader, they may be concerned about his leadership style. Some team members may be concerned about the nature of the project and whether it will match their professional interests and capabilities, or help or hinder their career aspirations. Further, team members can be highly anxious about life-style/work-style disruptions. As one project manager remarked, "Moving a team member's desk from one side of the room to the other can sometimes be just about as traumatic as moving someone from Chicago to Manila."

Another common concern among newly formed teams is whether there will be an equitable distribution of the workload among team members and whether each member is capable of pulling his own weight. In some newly formed teams, members not only must do their own work, but also must train other team members. Within reason this is bearable, but when it becomes excessive, anxiety increases.

Certain steps taken early in the life of a team can minimize the above problems. First, we recommend that the project leader talk with each team member one-to-one about the following:

1. What the objectives are for the project.

2. Who will be involved and why.

3. The importance of the project to the overall organization or work unit.

4. Why the team member was selected and assigned to the project. What role he will perform.

5. What rewards might be forthcoming if the project is successfully completed.

6. What problems and constraints are likely to be encountered.

7. The rules of the road that will be followed in managing the project (e.g., regular status review meetings).

8. What suggestions the team member has for achieving success.

9. What the professional interests of the team member are.

10. What challenge the project will present to individual members and the entire team.

11. Why the team concept is so important to project management success and how it should work.

Dealing with these anxieties and helping team members feel that they are an integral part of the team can yield rich dividends. First, as noted in Figure 5-8, team members are more likely to openly share their ideas and approaches. Second, it is more likely that the team will be able to develop effective decision-making processes. Third, the team is likely to develop more effective project control procedures, including those traditionally used to monitor project performance (PERT/CPM, networking, work breakdown structures, etc.) and those in which team members give feedback to each other regarding performance.

FIGURE 5-8. Team-building outcomes.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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