Creating an effective and successful project team – one that works well together to meet the project objectives – is a combination of a number of factors. Certainly, as a team leader, understanding the five stages of team development and how those stages impact the team is essential to you developing a high performing team. Read my post about The 5 Stages of Team Development, Part I and Part II prior to reading this post for some background information on effective team development.
Factors that are conducive to creating effective teams that have a better chance of success in reaching their goals include:
Strong team leadership. Teams need a strong leader. This doesn’t mean someone who will take charge and make all the decisions. On the contrary, a good team leader will bring out the best in the team members. They will know the individual strengths and weaknesses of the team and utilize that information to ensure the team composition has the right combination of skills to be successful. In fact, a good team leader will find a way to ensure that team members have opportunities for development so those weaknesses can eventually become strengths. A strong leader empowers the team members to work through issues and make decisions, but knows when to step in to keep the team moving forward.
Common goals and objectives. It is common that when individuals first come together to form a team, each individual members has his/her own goals and objectives. The role of the team leader is to ensure that the team focuses around common goals and objectives. He/she does this by getting the team to agree on the goals for the project and develop a strategy for reaching those goals. Agreeing on a common goal does not mean individual goals need to be pushed aside. A strong leader can help marry individual goals to the common goal to benefit the individual team members and the team as a whole. Following a common goal helps provide direction to the team and sets the stage for moving forward.
Processes for getting things done. A team must have a way of working together. There must be processes that the team members follow to make decisions, assign tasks, manage conflicts that arise, and achieve their goals.
Diversity among members. Diversity includes not just race, gender or cultural differences; but also diversity in experiences and skills. Diversity among team members is essential to ensure that members have the skills and experience necessary to manage the tasks they are assigned and meet their goals. A diverse team in the sense of race, gender and cultural differences, especially for global projects, enables a broader perspective on the project.
Time to learn about each other. Take the time, before the project kicks into gear, to enable the project team members to spend some time together and get to know each other. This helps to build trust which is needed if a team is going to be effective. The more the team members know about each other, the more comfortable they become working together, challenging ideas, offering suggestions and in helping each other out to ensure goals are accomplished. See a past article, Kicking off the Project Team, for suggestions on how to get the team members acquainted with each other.