Characteristics of Good Project Teams


Characteristics of Good Project Teams

A high-performance team has several characteristics, reflective of high morale and esprit de corps.

They encourage a sense of community among all members , direct and indirect. In his book On Leadership , John Gardner recognizes the importance of a sense of community, noting that its creation is one of the most important skills of a leader. [4] He then identifies conditions for generating this sense of community. Although Gardner talks in the context of public service, I believe his conditions apply just as much to business in general and projects in particular. These conditions include a shared culture, trust, teamwork, and good communication. [5]

They encourage collaboration, willingly and constantly. The team leader, however, has the responsibility to lay the groundwork and sustain it. As Kouzes and Posner said, it is about people working together; however, they add, such collaboration requires that leaders and, indeed, team members continually invest effort and energy to sustain it. [6]

According to Edward Marshall, in his book Transforming the Way We Work , the basis for collaboration is principles and values. [7] He identifies what he calls collaboration values, such as consensus, integrity, ownership, and respect. [8]

They encourage a strong sense of commitment by all team members. Without this feeling of commitment, overall performance will likely be marginal. To be lasting and effective, however, this sense of commitment must be shared by everyone; the way to achieve that is through a compelling goal. Common commitment is necessary; otherwise , a group is merely a composite of individuals.

They focus on results, defined as the achievement goals and objectives. However, there is a catch. Both the goals of the team and individuals require alignment. Without alignment, or misalignment, the commitment will be tepid and wane over time, causing a loss of synergy and effectiveness. Peter Senge notes the importance of alignment, observing that lack of alignment leads to waste whereas alignment results in focus and harmony. [9]

They openly share ideas, information, and feelings. Openness is not a weakness but an expectation and a strength. To a large extent, the issue is not so much one of openness, but one of emotional intelligence exhibited not only by individuals but the entire team. In Primal Leadership , Goleman, Boyatizis, and McKee observe that the emotional intelligence of groups consists of the same elements as an emotionally intelligent person. [10] This emotional maturity is reflected in the way a team interacts as Vanessa Druskat and Steven Wolff note in Harvard Business Review . They say that emotionally intelligent teams are willing to confront difficult circumstances and seek external advice and consultation on performance. [11]

They recognize that everyone on a team has leadership potential, not just the team leader. A team leader can enable that to happen by allowing team members to "rise to the occasion" if a situation warrants .

Of course, some team leaders construe this behavior as relinquishing their leadership responsibilities. That really is an inaccurate assessment. It is really more of a balancing act that relies on the team leader's judgment, as Katzenbach and Smith observe. They note that the balance is often between such considerations as guidance and control as well as creativity and discipline. Unfortunately, they say, traditional hierarchies yield to the pressure that favors control and discipline, for example. [12]

They provide the basis to create what Katzenbach and Smith describe as a high-performance team and Bennis and Biederman describe as a Great Group. The core of creating such a team is the meaning or the reason for its existence.

This sense of meaning or mission is reflected by the high energy radiating from the team, as Bennis and Biederman further observe. According to them, such teams thrive on deadlines, like high drama, and prefer action. [13]

A direct relationship exists between effective project management and effective teams. Indeed, just about all the practices of project management are correlated with all the practices of building effective teams.

Francis Hartman and Greg Skulmonski identify characteristics of highly effective teams that also apply to project teams, e.g., open communication, ownership of work, creativity, and trust. [14]

H. Dudley Dewhirst in PM Network notes practices like staffing, chartering, obtaining feedback, and managing performance. He also notes, however, that it involves more than the "mechanics" of project management. It also involves "soft issues," such as authority issues, relationships with customers, facilitating communications, seeking agreement and consensus, and encouraging feedback. [15]

He further implies that performing such activities makes the difference between the categories of teams described by Katzenbach and Smith: Star, Effective, Pseudo, and Name-only teams. Star teams are the best, followed by Effective, Pseudo, and Name-only, respectively. A Star team reflects the definition of a team provided by Katzenbach and Smith described earlier in this chapter. Effective teams are hampered by organizational constraints but still manage to "get the job done." Pseudo teams lack many of the mechanics of project management. Name -only teams lack the mechanics as well as leadership. [16]

According to Hans Thamhain and David Wilemon, a high-performing new product team, which is really a project team, has many characteristics of a high-performance team: low conflict, high commitment, involved people, and good communication. [17] What seems to increase the likelihood of having a high-performance project team? Project leadership, they add, prefers action, provides resources, directs plan development and implementation, and addresses important issues. [18]

[4] John W. Gardner, On Leadership , The Free Press, New York, 1990, p. 118.

[5] John W. Gardner, On Leadership , The Free Press, New York, 1990, pp. 115 “118.

[6] James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge , Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1987, p. 134.

[7] Edward M. Marshall, Transforming the Way We Work , Amacom, New York, 1995, p. 4.

[8] Edward M. Marshall, Transforming the Way We Work , Amacom, New York, 1995, pp. 27 “36.

[9] Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline , Currency Doubleday, New York, 1990, p. 234.

[10] Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatizis, and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership , Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2002, p. 177.

[11] Vanessa U. Druskat and Steven B. Wolff, Building the emotional intelligence of groups, Harvard Business Review , p. 85, March 2001.

[12] Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, The Wisdom of Teams , Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1993, p. 132.

[13] Warren Bennis and Patricia W. Biederman, Organizing Genius , Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1997, p. 214.

[14] Francis Hartman and Greg Skulmonski, Quest for team competence, Project Management , 5(1), 14, 1999.

[15] H. Dudley Dewhirst, Project teams: what have we learned?, PM Network , pp. 35 “36, April 1998.

[16] H. Dudley Dewhirst, Project teams: what have we learned?, PM Network , pp. 33 “34.

[17] Hans J. Thamhain and David L. Wilemon, Anatomy of a high performing new product team, in Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Seminar/Symposium , October 8 “10, 1984, Philadelphia, PA, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA, p. 147.

[18] Hans J. Thamhain and David L. Wilemon, Anatomy of a high performing new product team, in Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Seminar/Symposium , October 8 “10, 1984, Philadelphia, PA, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA, p. 149.




Leading High Performance Projects
The Photoshop CS2 Speed Clinic: Automating Photoshop to Get Twice the Work Done in Half the Time
ISBN: 193215910X
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 169

Similar book on Amazon

flylib.com © 2008-2017.
If you may any questions please contact us: flylib@qtcs.net