Put Together A High-Performing Project Team

Building a high-performing project team doesn't happen overnight, but once the alchemy is correct, your A-Team will be able to deliver unbeatable outcomes.

Ok, maybe you don't necessarily think about the A-Team when you're thinking about business projects, but those guys had the right mix of ingredients for a pretty dynamite team. "Hannibal", adaptable leader who could find a path to victory through every challenge. "Faceman", the well-spoken charmer who could easily penetrate silos of separation to sell any idea. "B.A." Baracus, the tough-man with shoulders so big he could always carry the workload. And "Howling Mad" Murdock, the crack pilot who could fly any technical challenge home.  

Much like the A-Team, a real high-performance project team has the following qualities:

  • Team members know each other well and understand everyone's strengths and weaknesses
  • They genuinely respect and care about each other
  • They believe in the organization’s mission and the projects objectives
  • They strive for excellence, holding each other accountable and continuously improving
  • They celebrate successes and learn from failures
  • They pity the fool who holds their project delivery up

How to Put Together a High-Performance Project Team

Project managers are only as successful as their projects’ outcomes, which greatly depend on the quality of the team. Here are some tips for improving your team’s performance.

1. Start Out on the Right Foot

In general, projects benefit from proper planning and execution. The first step should be to identify all the stakeholders and inform them of the project’s scope and benefits, in order to obtain their buy-in. Next, adopt a project charter to define the objectives, budget, scope and involved parties. Then, define all roles and responsibilities, including the project manager’s authority.

Keep communication flowing both ways, by providing status updates targeted to each stakeholder’s needs and interests, as well as soliciting feedback. Identify gatekeepers who may stand between you and the person you need to work with to ensure project success. Find out how each stakeholder prefers to receive his or her communication, whether it is in a memo, meeting, spreadsheet, email or a phone call.

Finally, break big projects down into manageable components, so they aren’t too overwhelming. Organize each component into individual tasks, using available software tools.http://info.allari.com/the-case-for-software-development-as-a-service-white-paper

2. Provide High-Quality Leadership

Project managers can only achieve success when everyone supports the project plan. Getting that buy-in is one sign of a great leader. But project leaders also have to lead the team through delays and problems throughout the project lifecycle. Here are some helpful guidelines to follow along the way:

  • Establish your team’s objectives and purpose – It’s important to verify that all team members know exactly what target they are aiming for and why it’s important to both the organization and the team. People may be more likely to work toward a common goal when they clearly understand its meaning and their contribution.
  • Establish a few rules – You can help build trust when you communicate what’s expected. It’s also generally a good idea to plan ahead in order to manage potential conflicts in a positive way.
  • Demonstrate trust – Allow people to take risks, experience failures and learn from their mistakes. Encourage creativity and avoid micromanaging. You shouldn’t expect team members to put trust in you if you can’t first demonstrate that you trust them.
  • Require accountability – Regularly assess both team and individual performance. Deal with issues immediately by enforcing the established rules. Be sure to offer criticism constructively and privately. Without accountability, rules may be ignored, projects derailed and leaders may not respected.
  • Demonstrate your leadership – Model the work ethic, honesty, and level of communication and cooperation you expect. Show team members what success looks like, and they may be inspired to follow you.
3. Recognize and Reward

People often like to be appreciated for a job well done. As a project leader, it's important to recognize team members when they meet important deadlines or achieve significant milestones. Praise from a leader can make team members feel appreciated, and may inspire the entire team to keep working toward the goal. However, keep in mind that not everyone may share the same enthusiasm for the spotlight. When you truly know your team well, you'll learn their preferences, including who may rather receive their accolades in private.

4. Handle Delays Professionally

Work interruptions, technical troubles, additional responsibilities and unforeseen circumstances can delay a project. While they may be normal and expected in business, it doesn’t make missing a deadline any easier to swallow. Leadership is often judged by how people handle obstacles and delays, so make sure to do it professionally.

Start by evaluating the severity of the problem and remember that not every delay is a catastrophe. Next, assess how the delay may affect other aspects of the project, and what resources are available to shift to the problem. Finally, engage team members on finding and implementing the most effective solution. Also, make sure to keep appropriate stakeholders informed of the delay while providing an appropriate solution.

Building Better Project Teams

High-performing project teams can help make a project manager’s life easier. Start building your team by following these tips for improving project team performance. They're easy to implement and can pay off in an “A-Team” that can help make projects more successful. I love it when a plan comes together!


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