THE HIGH-PERFORMING PROJECT TEAM RECIPE
The performance of any organization, department or project is often symptomatic of the performance of the teams that support them. A great team results in a great outcome and vice-versa.
This article covers four critical topics that can make or break a project team.
A high-performing team requires strong leadership and support from Senior Management across the company. A study conducted by the University of Ottawa found that 33% of projects fail simply due to a lack of involvement from Senior Management.
Pro-active project leaders who have a comprehensive plan and are supported by Management have the highest possible chance of delivering a successful project.
It is essential for any good leader to regularly convey information to their staff in a way that motivates them and provides a clear picture of objectives.
Prior to starting any project, ensure that you set clear expectations by covering objectives, roles, responsibilities, standards and time-frames. To increase accountability, request that team members sign a non-legal agreement which outlines these elements.
Clearly communicating the strategic purpose and the objectives of the project at the outset and before each Work-in-Progress meeting will ensure that individuals don’t lose sight of the big picture and how their shared contributions will add value.
Similarly, regularly communicating updates on past and future key milestones, failures and successes will ensure that there are no misunderstandings that could jeopardize the project.
Even those teams that fully understand the scope of the project and have capable members cannot function effectively if anyone lacks respect for the other members. A chain is only as a strong as its weakest link.
During a kick-off meeting, incorporate exercises that establish an expectation of a respectful team and to demonstrate how to show respect to each other. Ask each team member what respect means to them personally and what effects disrespect can have on individuals and the team. This action will lay the foundation of how team members should interact moving forward. Have a plan in place to deal with any issues that might arise and don’t let it fester. Regular one-on-one meetings with open dialogue will shed light on any potential conflicts.
Stereotypes influence our view of other people and result in bias (often unconscious) which can foster disrespect and cause a team to under-perform. On the other hand, working in a respectful, diverse team challenges individual team members to overcome rudimentary ways of thinking and sharpen their performance. This is because diverse teams are more likely to re-examine problems and solutions and remain objective.
If the project leader strives for diversity amongst team members and sets the tone for a respectful environment with clear, shared goals, strong foundations are laid for a high-performing team and a successful project.