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Building an Effective Project Team

You’ve been tasked with starting a new project. This project might involve streamlining software procurement processes, implementing a new system, or revamping your firm’s go-to-market strategy in a new geography…whatever it may be, it’s vitally important to ensure that your team has the tools and resources to reach its objective.

A couple of years ago, Microsoft published 5 attributes of successful teams. The 5 attributes that they focused on were:

  1. Team purpose — Keeps teams focused, fulfilled, and aligned on achieving their objectives.
  2. Collective identity — Fosters a sense of belonging and helps team members work together as a unit.
  3. Awareness and inclusion — Enables teams to navigate interpersonal dynamics and value everyone’s perspective.
  4. Trust and vulnerability — Encourages interpersonal risk-taking in teams.
  5. Constructive tension — Serves as a generative force for new ideas, driving better outcomes.

In this post, we’re going to expand upon these 5 attributes to help ensure you build an effective project team, regardless of where you work.

1. Team Purpose

Effective project teams know what their goals are, and they understand them well. Teams that understand the objectives and reasoning for why this project is happening have a strong foundation for working together.

Similarly, great project teams create their goals together. Management that involves stakeholders in the planning process helps to create a sense of we’re all in this together, achieving buy-in from several different individuals to drive towards the goal.

When project teams align on their purpose and their mission, everyone involved will be on the same page understanding the WHY.

2. Collective Identity

Creating a cadence, rhythm, and most importantly, culture helps great project teams work as one collective group. From accountability to autonomy, helpfulness to resourcefulness, each of these traits plays a big role in getting all project team members to buy into the collective success of the group.

As a leader, you should reward this type of behavior — recognizing wins and stand-out contributions which will ultimately encourage repeat behaviors and others to see the value placed on these traits.

Ensuring everyone has a voice and feels heard is key to ensuring a sense of belonging across all team members.

3. Awareness and Inclusion

As a project manager, you have a choice to make when it comes to including ALL of your team. Leadership that involves each team member and recognizes their contribution shows that you truly care about your team. Encouraging feedback on how to keep improving, involves everyone, makes their voiced heard, and creates a culture of open communication. A few ways to ensure your project team continues to get better in all aspects is to:

  • Conduct team evaluations and self-evaluations
  • Practice fairness and equal treatment amongst team members
  • Reward positive behavior
  • Hold retros at project intervals to reflect on the Good, Bad, Ideas, and Actions of the project in an effort to continually improve

4. Trust and Vulnerability

Roles and responsibilities get thrown around a lot on projects. Practically speaking each person on your team serves a purpose. They’re there because they have some combination of knowledge, understanding, and a willingness to work. Clearly establish what each person’s role and responsibilities are on the project, otherwise, it becomes unclear how to best leverage each individual. Knowing who does what and who is responsible for which items establishes trust across the team.

Trust is really what a project is all about. The project has put each person there for a reason, meaning it can only succeed if each person is able to work together and trust one another. By trusting in your team, you have the luxury of being vulnerable. Vulnerability is one of those things that pays dividends over time. Having the humility to seek help and lean on your other team members, in turn, helps them do the same, creating a cycle of trust and support.

5. Constructive Tension

If your team consistently agrees with one another, you fall into the trap of group-think, wherein ideas are never challenged. Diversity of thought and individual backgrounds helps to unearth creative ideas and check assumptions. Projects are dynamic; there are always tons of moving parts, but challenging one another’s ideas helps to surface new ideas, and this cycle can fuel your team’s creative juices. Once your team has reached a decision point and evaluated all the potential choices/ideas, it’s important to commit. Even if you disagree, commit. The project needs to move forward and the path forward needs buy-in from everyone involved. By committing to the path forward you can play a part in the path’s success.

With these traits in mind, here’s to a successful project!

❤ The Giraffe Team

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