The quality of work that your company produces relies heavily on how well your team operates. A well oiled team can be the difference between delivering winning projects and losing clients/customers.
While no two teams are exactly alike, there are basic elements to keep in mind when building a strong team for your project:
Strong project managers know when to step up and when to step back. The project manager sets the tone for the team. The way you communicate, your tone of voice, and your ability to plan greatly affect the success of your team. Strong leaders, whether they are leading a project or a platoon, know that their actions matter, and that they matter, but they also know that the team matters more.
In successful teams, communication happens in two different areas: personal and professional. Team members who bond while discussing hobbies and weekend plans are able to get a better sense of how their coworkers work and think, build stronger rapport, and are more likely to be cooperative during times of high stress. According to Entrepreneur Magazine:
“Seventy-one percent of people on effective teams have conversations that aren’t work-related on a daily or weekly basis, while 38 percent of those employees on ‘less successful teams’ rarely engage their co-workers on a personal level, if ever.”
The other side of communication is professional. Successful teams communicate openly, honestly, and in a timely manner. There are many different avenues for communicating and it’s important for teams to figure out which type is best for them: email, regular meetings, phone calls, company intranet, messenger systems, etc.
No matter what tools your team uses for communication, one thing is for certain: the quality and quantity of communication starts at the top. This means that however the leader communicates, the employees will follow suit. As the team leader or project manager, you set the tone for communication within your team.
Clearly Defined Roles
When working on a project, teams who have clearly defined roles are more likely to succeed than teams without defined roles. When everyone is aware of not just their own responsibilities, but of others’ responsibilities as well, communication is improved because everyone knows where everything fits. Another great benefit of having and communicating clear roles is that tasks and details are less likely to be overlooked since everyone knows what area they’re responsible for.
Despite having clearly defined roles, teams still need to be agile. Having a team of highly specialized members can be a plus for a project or organization since these team members can bring a depth of knowledge to the team. However, there are a few downsides such as: what happens when a crucial team member is out of the office? You suddenly have a gap in knowledge which could cause a bottleneck in your project completion. This is where having a team of T-shaped individuals can help. T-shaped individuals are people who, in terms of their skills and knowledge, compliment their deep expertise with broad, general knowledge in related areas surrounding their expertise. If you were to map out their combination of broad skills and deep expertise, it would look like a T, thus they are “T-shaped.” Teams comprised of T-shaped team members have many advantages including agility, better understanding and communication between team members, and the opportunity for more creative ideas and solutions.
The old saying is true: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. The same goes for teams. If you purposefully build your team with people who think alike, you’ll likely end up with a team of individuals who always agree. Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t always a good thing. Variety in thinking will bring fresh ideas to your project and new ways of problem solving. According to Jeff Palfini, writing for CBS news, successful teams are made up several different types of individuals: agitators, wild cards, leaders, workhorses, glues, and experts.
Ownership begins with empowerment and leads to accountability. What is empowerment? Empowerment is what happens when leadership places trust in the employees and team members to take control over their work and make decisions, and then steps out of their way. Once your team members feel empowered enough to make the big decisions that move projects forward, they’ll begin to feel a sense of ownership of the results. Successful teams consist of people who feel personally responsible for the outcome.
A team can have many of the above attributes, but, if they lack the ability to manage their time wisely, that could be disastrous. Just like the the other characteristics of strong teams, time management begins with the project manager. It’s the project manager’s duty to manage the overall timeline of the projects, set milestones, and check progress. However, winning teams consist of members who are each experts in managing their own time, to ensure that they meet the team’s larger milestones.
Last but not least, the most successful teams know how to have fun, make others laugh to lighten the mood as well as celebrate when they finish a successful project. Don’t overlook this final, but crucial, characteristics.
Does your team have the above winning characteristics? Would you add anything else to this list?