I got the dream team for my project but they aren’t performing!

Individuals have different specialization and are unique in some way from each other. However, when all the different individuals come together with a common goal, they can create miracles. Our creator with a great wisdom has created exclusivity in everyone so that we work together with these exceptional skills for the benefit of all.  When this mind-set is realized between groups of individuals, they form a team. An ideal team resembles a group of individuals who are discipline, self-managed and self-motivated. Members believe in themselves and want to be successful in their endeavors. Every problem of the team is a problem of each member. When one is down failing, the entire team gets down combating the failure.

Building a team is a complex process; it is each project manager’s dream to have an ideal team to deliver on his projects. The good news is that teamwork among members can be developed over time with good management techniques.  Smart leaders know how to identify the skill sets of the employees and assign them to tasks that are suited to their abilities. Nevertheless, there are stages each team goes through prior to being effective as per Tuckman’s theory covered in PMI-ACP agile framework.  A project manager (PM) as a leader should be aware of these below stages and should define management strategies to signify performance, prior to exerting efforts by expecting maximum team cooperation in every stage.

Stages of Team development

Forming – In this stage, team members are grouped together for the first time. This phase can last for a couple of days, weeks or even months. Members try to get to know each other, the environment and start to work together gradually. Leaders play an important role during this stage because roles and responsibilities of the members are still unclear. They ensure to identify each member’s strength and weaknesses to set them with the appropriate tasks to deliver the same within their capacity.

Storming – Because of the diversity of the team members, conflicts do arise and can’t be avoided among members. Problems can be due to personal relations and working styles, just to name a few. Some team members might challenge the leader or want their position to be changed.  The Project Manager needs have his focus on the objectives and keep getting the team aligned for their activities. Most of the teams break apart in this stage as leadership and adaptability is truly tested. The stage does recur when new members join the team or there is a crunch situation to deliver large amounts in short time. Team gets in to conflict whenever stressful situations arise due to external unplanned constraints. PM needs to keep motivating the team to continue progress and be optimistic in achieving the end goal.

Norming – After passing through a rough time, during this stage, members start to adjust to the roles they were given. This results after possible fall-out of certain members and also subsequently considering certain adaptability factors among each other. They now understand each other and adjust to the roles they were given. Members also respect their leader and appreciate the strengths of the other members. They start to communicate openly, trusting each other and boosting the performance but still not the ultimate level.

Performing–The team starts to work together in order to achieve the goal and focus on getting the job done. Processes and structures are agreed and already set up to support the performance. They deliver with their best capacity to the maximum in this stage. But this final performing stage is not constant which is not in Tuckman’s analysis, team keeps going back to the other stages at different instances. It highly relies on the leader to have the ability to keep getting the team back in to the performing stage each time. Ground rules do help the leaders to keep the team on task.

Establish Ground Rules

One of the crucial thing which assists the situation in every stage are the ground rules. It is important for a team to agree on the ground rules from the beginning and keep following them. They help develop strong working relationships. Not only is that ground rules a good foundation for problem-solving. They also provide a way to understand the collective values to form a healthy environment in the workplace. Team will keep forgetting, again the PM as a leader has to cling on to these rules and keep reminding the team to be aligned for delivery.

Below are some of the ground rules that will help create a performing team:

  • Team members and their opinions are equal
  • Team members are free to share their opinions
  • Problems are solved by the team
  • Agreements should be implemented unless renegotiated
  • The team must have a single voice when it comes to issues
  • Honesty is more important than cohesiveness
  • Each member must be able to have their say in an issue
  • Silence means yes and adherence to the team agreement
  • Members are required to attend regular meetings
  • Meetings must always start and end on time

These are the things you need to know as a PM about team building. It is an important process for managing resources in any project delivery with tight constraints. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to lead the teams but being aware of the above different stages can help you achieve your desire to have a dream team.


Image 1: https://www.cio.com/article/3119749/project-management/project-management-to-debrief-or-not-to-debrief.html

Image 4: http://teamings.com/blog/8-ground-rules-for-successful-conference-calls/

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