No matter how skilled you are as a project manager, you cannot be successful without a good team. However, building that team can be very challenging. All too often, project managers find that they have a few bad apples in the bunch – whether it’s team members who simply cannot work together, that take too much time off work or lack the necessary experience and skills for the project. The best way to ensure that you aren’t set back by a team that can’t play the game is to set qualifications before you even build the team. Here are a few tips to help.
1. Know What You Need
Perhaps the most important tip for building an effective team has less to do with the members you choose than it does with you and your planning. Before you ever consider a single person as a potential team member, you need to know what skills you’ll need in your team. Do you need someone with experience dealing with inventory control? Do you need a team member with an accounting background? Every project will require a specific skill set from each team member, and it’s your job to ensure those needs are defined before the project gets off the ground. You would never plan your project without clearly defining the scope – don’t fly blind when it comes to the project staff. Clearly define and map out all of the required skills, background, competencies, and personal attributes that you require.
2. Meetings and Update Reports
If you’ll be holding team meetings, make it clear to all team members that they’re expected to be in attendance. This should be clarified from the very beginning. Likewise, if you will require your team members to submit regular update reports, this should be set out at the start. Part of your job as a project manager is ensuring your team members are all on the same page as you as far as their responsibilities are concerned. Not doing so is a short road to failure. A coordinated approach to time management and strong accountability guarantees that when there are problems (and there will be), they get caught early on in the project.
Ensure a project meeting minute is drafted and circulate to all team members the soonest. This is to allow the participants to have an idea what was discussed and what actions they need to carry out.
3. Let Your Team Decide
The temptation to micromanage your team can be very strong, but it’s important that you resist this urge, particularly when it comes to how your team works together. Let your team members get together and lay out how they will work together, what rules they’ll follow and how they will conduct themselves with each other. While you should be part of this, give your team members as much autonomy as possible so long as they’re doing nothing that will endanger the success of your project. Additionally, leverage your team’s expertise and experience when it comes to interviewing contractors and developing qualification criteria.
4. Set Rules for Accountability and Other Factors
Only part of your team’s success will stem from their skills. Quite a bit will come from their willingness to accept change and ability to adapt to new situations. Your project will evolve as time goes on, and each member needs to be able to adapt when it does. In addition, your team members must also be dedicated to accountability for their actions and in-actions. They must be able to solve problems together, but also be willing to seek help when it’s necessary. Remember the term RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed), where the team tasks/ activities are accountable for.
By building an effective, proactive team, you gain stability and a smoother path to project completion. As a project manager, the success or failure of the project will always fall on your shoulders, but it’s imperative to build the strongest, most qualified team under you from the very start of the project.