Quick Guide to Kick Start Team Building for a Project

Regina Maniam asked:

Team building is key to businesses in delivering profitability and customer satisfaction. Strange as you may think, I believe it is also key to employee satisfaction.

A team is made up of a number of people charged withdoing a specific piece of work. The team is put together primarily based on the skills required as defined for the project. In the fast moving environment that we live in, the extent to which team members can work together is hardly given any consideration. It also does not seem practical anyway.

So how is team building done under such circumstances? Of course, it is possible to just drive the team to work towards the desired end result. But, this is where the results will show a difference.

A team that works well together can produce better results as opposed to individuals who try to outshine each other. The team leader plays a significant role in managing the team and team building becomes an integral part of the daily managing of the team.

There are a few structural items that must taken into consideration first. These are items that project managers will be familiar with. Common sense but maybe not common practice.

First, the structure of the team, the number of people and the skills required must be defined as best as possible. I say as best as possible because things are changing so fast that unless you are repeating exactly the same thing every time, it is difficult to be very precise. Most people will factor in some buffer in their plan to cater for this.

Second, match the roles and skills required.

Third, get a group of people who can work together.

You will be extremely lucky if you managed to get all these. Chances are you will not get all of it. But that is the typical reality.

So, first thing is to accept what you cannot change. Believe me! This step makes a big difference because you stop using any energy in fighting for additional resources and looking at innovative ways for bridging the gaps.

I believe the first thing in team building at this point is to state clearly the objectives that the team needs to achieve. I have seen time and again how teams can be brought together if their deliverables are clear to them.

Next is to state the roles and responsibilities clearly to all the team members. And their deliverables. This clarity makes it very easy to know when an action has been completed. Look for the deliverables!

So far, it has all been clinical. Typical project management stuff.

Well! Guess what? More clinical stuff. But it pays.

First, check out the actual number of people against plan. Then, check whether they have the right skills.

Once you know where the resource issues are, put together a plan. This could be training, mentoring or continuing to source another resource with the skills required.

If key resources are missing and this can negatively affect the end results, escalate this matter in writing or via email to the project sponsor. Make sure that you also articulate the extent to which you have tried to work within the constraints.

Coming back to your team. Apply team building strategy to get your team to work together effectively. Involve them in planning and how to handle the shortcomings. You will be amazed at the extent people will help you when you involve them in problem solving. You see, the technique is in involving people. When you do, they take ownership.

Next is the action plan. Again, planning together is a great team building activity. Frankly, I don’t think any single person knows that much and can think through various possibilities to come up with a real good plan. Team building aside, the team members probably know a thing or two that the team leader might not be aware of.

So, this is real good! Because you get

1. more content during the planning session

2. the team members involved and taking ownership

3. the plan done.

Remember, however, that the person who facilitates the meeting must be able to bring the best out of the team.

Document the outcome of the session. Confirm the actions assigned, responsibilities and deliverables.

I cannot stress enough the significant role that the team leader plays. At this point, the team leader should sit with each of the team members to discuss their responsibilities and more importantly to get feedback from them.

At this point, I can hear some of you saying “Where do I get time for all this? I have real work to do”. You can either spend extra time now or you may end up spending it later when things do not work so well.

Another tip! Not on team building, but on time management. Fit all these one-on-one sessions as appointments in your calendar and just get them done. Treat them as any other appointment. These sessions may prove more useful then some of the meetings that you attend.

I have found that I spend my time most productively when I am busiest. Is that true for you? Why don’t you try it out?

If your team is very big, then probably there will be groups within the team. In this case, the team leader may want to meet only with the group leaders. As part of team building though, each of the group leaders should also meet with their group members.

Team building is a big topic. This article on team building covers only the initial start off when getting a team together. I hope that you are able to use it as a solid start in putting a team together and getting them to synergistically deliver the results.

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