Team Building As an Ongoing Process

While proper attention to team building is critical during early phases of a project, it is a never-ending process. The project manager is continually monitoring team functioning and performance to see what corrective action may be needed to prevent or correct various team problems. Several barometers provide good clues of potential team dysfunctioning. First, noticeable changes in performance levels for the team and/or for individual team members should always be investigated. Such changes can be symptomatic of more serious problems (e.g., conflict, lack of work integration, communication problems, and unclear objectives). Second, the project leader and team members must be aware of the changing energy levels of team members. These changes, too, may signal more serious problems or that the team is tired and stressed. Sometimes changing the work pace, taking time off, or selling short-term targets can serve as a means to reenergize team members. More serious cases, however, can call for more drastic action (e.g., reappraising project objectives and/or the means to achieve them). Third, verbal and nonverbal clues from team members may be a source of information on team functioning. It is important to hear the needs and concerns of team members (verbal clues) and to observe how they act in carrying out their responsibilities (nonverbal clues). Finally, detrimental behavior of one team member toward another can be a signal that a problem within the team warrants attention.

We highly recommend that project leaders hold regular meetings to evaluate overall team performance and deal with team functioning problems. The focus of these meetings can be directed toward "what we are doing well as team" and

''what areas need our team's attention." This approach often brings positive surprises in that the total team is informed of progress in diverse project areas (e.g., a breakthrough in technology development, a subsystem schedule met ahead of the original target, or a positive change in the client's behavior toward the project). After the positive issues have been discussed, attention should be devoted to areas needing team attention. The purpose of this part of the review session is to focus on actual or potential problem areas. The meeting leader should ask each team member for his observations on these issues. Then, an open discussion should be held to ascertain how significant the problems really are. Assumptions should, of course, be separated from the facts of each situation. Next, assignments should be agreed on for best handling of these problems. Finally, a plan for problem follow-up should be developed. The process should result in better overall performance and promote a feeling of team participation and high morale.

Over the life of a project, the problems encountered by the project team are likely to change, and as old problems are identified and solved, new ones will emerge.

In summary, effective team building is a critical determinant of project success. While the process of team building can entail frustrations and energy on the part of all concerned, the rewards can be great.

Social scientists generally agree that there are several indicators of effective and ineffective teams, which are summarized in Table 5-3.

In the next decade, we anticipate important developments in team building. As shown in Figure 5-8, these developments will lead to higher performance levels, increased morale, and a pervasive commitment to final results that can withstand almost any kind of adversity.

TABLE 5-3. EFFECTIVENESS-INEFFECTIVENESS INDICATOR

The Effective Team's Likely Characteristics

• High performance and task efficiency

• Innovative/creative behavior

• Commitment

• Professional objectives of team members coincident with project requirements

• Team members highly interdependent, interface effectively

• Capacity for conflict resolution, but conflict encouraged when it can lead to beneficial results

• Effective communication

• High trust levels

• Results orientation

• Interest in membership

• High energy levels and enthusiasm

• Change orientation

The Ineffective Team's Likely Characteristics

• Low performance

• Low commitment to project objectives

• Unclear project objectives and fluid commitment levels from key participants

• Unproductive gamesmanship, manipulation of others, hidden feelings, conflict avoidance at all costs

• Confusion, conflict, inefficiency

• Subtle sabotage, fear, disinterest, or foot -dragging

• Cliques, collusion, isolation of members

• Lethargy/unresponsiveness

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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