The success or failure of any project hinges on your team. More specifically, it hinges on your team’s ability to work together as a cohesive whole despite the myriad different roles, duties, responsibilities and tasks each team member will be responsible for. That requires teamwork, and that’s not something that comes naturally to everyone. However, there are things that you can do to improve teamwork and ensure that your project stays on track, and all the various cogs are doing what they should be.
1. Make Sure Each Member Knows Their Role
Defining stakeholder roles early on is important, but it’s equally important that each team member working on your project understands his or her role as well. By clearly defining roles and responsibilities before the project gets underway, you help ensure that no one attempts to overstep their bounds, and that everyone can focus on what they’re actually supposed to be doing. Ensure that all roles mesh with that individual’s existing skillset, though.
2. Find Reasons to Celebrate Together
A team can only be a team if there’s feeling of togetherness, of working toward common goals and being part of something larger than the individual. One way to foster that feeling of inclusion is to celebrate milestones and successes (even small ones). You don’t have to have a formal party – something informal will work just as well. Just make sure you celebrate your victories and build that feeling of being part of something larger than yourself.
3. Have a Team Building Event
Fostering the aforementioned sense of camaraderie doesn’t require anything huge or formal – a small team building exercise can help. It needn’t be a retreat to a cabin in the woods, either. Head out for coffee, or get the team together for a shared meal at lunch to discuss activities or issues. The point is to get the team out of the work environment, but keep them together.
4. Intervene in Disputes
As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to manage your team, just as much as it is to manage the overall project. Part of that is being able to intervene during disputes. It helps to have clearly defined roles and authority from the get-go, but there will be times that you have to step in. Be clearheaded, fair and understanding, and make the best call you can to settle things and get the ball rolling once more. If possible, encourage both parties to come to an agreement together, rather than forcing a decision of your own on both.
Recognition programs have a reputation for being somewhat cheesy, but there’s a good reason they’re used so frequently. Being recognized for an achievement has a profound effect on a team member, and helps to build a stronger team overall. Make sure you’re rewarding success and recognizing achievements within your team.
Building a stronger, more effective team will ensure that your project has the best chance of success (or at least help avoid failure from within).