Teams are made of people, and people perform the activities, tasks and steps required to achieve the desired results. Without people, nothing can be done, but with effective and efficient people on board, high quality projects can be completed on budget and in a timely manner.

People are so important to successful project completion that a savvy project manager’s most crucial job is building an effective and efficient team for the entire duration of the project. When the team members work well together, even the most challenging crisis can be overcome because everybody pitches in on the job. Even when pressure is absent, the team’s enthusiasm for the project will be reflected in the quality of their work and in their ability to persuade others to buy-in to its product or service.

The bottom line: Build an effective and efficient team, achieve the desired results, perhaps even exceed expectations in terms of schedule, budget and quality of results.

Team Building Process Defined

Understanding effective team building requires understanding the process itself. The team building process consists of a comprehensive set of measures designed to bring together people with different knowledge, skills and personalities into a collaborative team. Keep in mind that diversity can be as much an asset as a liability – and the team building process results in diversity becoming a valuable intangible asset for the group.

Its main goal is the development of a competent, committed and collaborative team working toward shared goals, objectives and results. It is a continuous process that seeks to remove roadblocks, resolve differences, and remedy issues that can adversely affect the team’s success toward the achievement of its shared goals.

Why adopt the team building process in project management? It can bring significant and substantial improvements in the actual performance of team members and in their delivery of the project deliverables. Everybody from the project manager and his team members to the clients and stakeholders are happy with their performance and the results, promoting their unique interests in the project.

Factors Affecting Building an Effective Team

While a project manager may have several uncontrollable factors in the way of his success, building an effective team is not one of them. A savvy project manager should acknowledge that building an effective team requires a deeper understanding of the factors that affect it, resulting in a better implementation of the methods involved in team building.

These factors include:

  • Shared conviction about the value and viability of the shared goals among the team members
  • Awareness of each individual’s value in the team including the importance of his roles and responsibilities for the team’s overall success
  • Recognition of the other team members’ value from the key specialists to the junior assistants
  • Communicating well with the members on all aspects relevant to their specific jobs
  • Coaching the junior members rather than bossing them around
  • Motivating the members and leading them by example
  • Celebrating successes and rewarding milestones achieved
  • Encouraging the members to support each other
  • Establishing friendships so that members enjoy working with each other even under pressure

Keep in mind that these factors can be established, maintained and strengthened to build a more effective and efficient team in several ways. Think about positive face-to-face interactions in the office and project site during normal working days as well as during special team building activities (i.e., trainings, workshops and seminars). Think about using technology to foster team building, such as emails, video conferencing, and group chats, all of which are of special importance to teams in different locations. Think about non-work activities that strengthen camaraderie among the members, such as outings and retreats.

Indeed, each day that the team members interact with each other in any form becomes an opportunity for effective team building! Grab that opportunity whenever you can in whatever way suits the situation.

Tips for Building Your Team

With the above mentioned factors in mind, here are the tips for effective team building and, in the process, building an effective, efficient and collaborative team.

Recommended Reading: Ways to be a Good Team Player

Encourage open communication

Members should be encouraged to express their concerns, opinions and ideas to each other as well as to the project manager albeit with the understanding that their expressions should be constructive in nature (i.e., non-aggressive). Members should also be asked to listen to their co-workers and leader as well as value each other’s opinions – truly, mutual respect is a must for effective team.

Effective communication also means engaging all of the team members in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the team’s efforts. From the start of the project, a project leader should clearly communicate the following matters:

  • Goals, objectives and results of the project
  • Schedule and budget
  • Performance parameters including what, when and how the performance will be measured
  • Value of project to the organization or the client
  • Approaches to be used for the project including focus areas, technology, tools, and work streams
  • Style and culture for the project
  • Roles and responsibilities of each member and their values to the project

The clearer these matters are in the minds of the team members, the better their performance can be because there is little to no doubt about the expectations.

Build mutual trust

Yet another pillar of effective team building is mutual trust among the members and project manager. Keep in mind that without mutual trust, the team does not exist except as a collection of diverse individuals working together in a group – and more likely failing to achieve the desired results within the schedule and budget.

Trust means that each member trusts that the others will deliver on their specific deliverable as well as be an active participant during the entire project duration. Trust means reliance on the honesty of each member on both the personal and professional aspects particularly on matters that affect the project and the team.

Other steps in effective team building include conducting regular progress review, giving appropriate rewards for accomplishments, and encourage cooperation instead of competition.