Project Team Building is a process that the Project Core Team normally goes through to improve team coordination and decision making.
When to use
Project Team Building is done initially when the project team is first formed, normally during the planning stage. However, it must also be practiced whenever a Project Core Team changes or the project goes through a major change to its goals and/or approach. This can happen at any time during the life of the project.
Project team building is most important for large projects with a cross-functional set of project activities. A Project Core Team is assigned to plan and manage the project. This team will often have conflict due to different functional and personal priorities and concerns. Team building helps this team resolve the conflict in a positive manner and keep the project on track to achieve its objectives. The Core Team members must represent the needs and standards of their function within the project activities, but they must also represent the needs of the project within their function. They also will typically act as the supervisors for all project activities performed in their function, whether they are doing the work themselves or others are doing it. This is a challenging leadership position requiring good communication skills, negotiating skills, and functional skills. For that reason, Core Teams often need to address team-building issues. A very small project may only have one or two people who are involved in conducting project activities. In that case, team building is often irrelevant.
Steps for Project Team Building
- Forming – whenever a project Core Team is first organized, or a change is made to the membership, the members must be introduced and get acquainted with each other.
- Storming – this often occurs whenever the project plan is being developed or changed as the needs and capabilities of different departments must be balanced. The GRPI method is an excellent tool to use at this time.
- Norming – effective use of GRPI will lead to project “norms” which are the resolution to the areas of conflict
- Performing – project Core Teams who have been together for several projects can reach this stage because they have established “norms” for the entire project lifecycle.
GRPI provides a framework for team building that is very helpful when conflict arises or when team members change. When doing team building, the GRPI framework if followed in the sequence: G R P I. When doing conflict resolution within the team the framework is used in the opposite direction: I P R G.
- Goals – Clarify the goals of the project team and ensure that all teams member agree and are aligned.
- Roles – Clarify the primary role of each team member and discuss the handoffs between team members
- Processes – Clarify what is to be done on the project and how it is to be done. This includes task descriptions and the timing of deliverables. It also includes team processes such as team meetings and team decision-making.
- Interpersonal Relationships – Foster the development of close working relationships.
Hints & tips
- Core Team members should be good communicators and willing to negotiate. Stubborn individuals or hard-line negotiators make poor Core Team members.
- Core Team members must be technically savvy within their department. They need to have the respect of their department and are able to identify issues and negotiate compromises for their department.
- Core Teams often have conflict. Expect it. But work to resolve it using GRPI – don’t ignore it.
- If the Core Team membership changes during the project, plan a short team-building session to accelerate through the forming and storming stages and get to the norming stage with the new individual.
- All members of the Core Team should be held accountable for overall project success.
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