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How to Build and Organize a Project Team


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1) Assembling a Project Team

To make a project dynamically and seamlessly working it is necessary to pick up and appoint right people to right positions. Project staffing is always a charged matter, because assembling even small teams requires from managers applying all their arsenal of experience, intuition and communicative skills. This is not surprising as people are the most important, delicate and valuable project resource entirely driving it to success. Ineffective team will make the project ineffective as well, and here are some traits indicating ineffectiveness of a project team:

  • Overstaffing: too many employees are involved into the team, and therefore workforce appears excessive, costly and poorly manageable. Experienced project managers control the size of their project teams, aspiring to have the smallest teams possible, but possessing the necessary skills.
  • Disunity: individualism, favoritism, personal egos and interests reign over the team. Disunited teams usually suffer from interpersonal conflicts, distrust, demotivation, inattention to project’s goals, quality and results. As a rule disunity is an outcome of unhealthy managerial approaches and poor staff selection policy.
  • Low performance: of course poor performance is a sign of ineffectiveness, but it is necessary to thoroughly investigate the underlying reasons. If the problems are approved as being rooted in certain errors of project team organization, then something should be reviewed and reformed, and if the problems have different character, then the team should be guided to overcome them.
  • a) Skills and abilities:

    1. In order to accomplish certain project a manager will need a mixture of essential skills.
    2. Consider what skills are just necessary to accomplish the given project.
    3. Decide in what proportions you will need these skills to be represented in your group.
    4. Consider what skills are prevailing (indispensable to accomplish the work) and what skills are just desirable to enrich the team with useful range of expertise.
    5. Consider level of attendance you require for the skills (what skills should attend the project on full-time basis and what can stay on part-time).

    b) Roles and responsibilities:

    1. Consider what responsibilities are associated with the project’s workflow.
    2. Consider what Roles can be established to undertake these responsibilities.
    3. Consider what skills and experience will fit these responsibilities.
    4. Reasoning from the previous points outline what skills you will need for each Role.
    5. Consider which Roles can combine sets of responsibilities to discharge and probably eliminate some other roles which seem to be less relevant.
    6. Consider what roles/responsibilities can be outsourced to minimize team costs.
    7. Optimize responsibilities between existing roles so the team can stay smaller as possible.
    8. Design the final chart of project Roles to link them up with their responsibilities.

    c) Team Selection:

    1. Figure out and state requirements for ideal candidates to occupy each of the Roles.
    2. Use available recruiting sources to seek for some candidates who may fit your requirements.
    3. Don’t get attracted just by tons of paper qualifications, but make sure a candidate can fit your specific project in terms of what and how you actually want him to do on daily basis.
    4. Meet every candidate and check his appearance and attitudes. Review his expertise and skills.
    5. Look for persons with positive attitudes and behaviors, respectful of others and committed to self-development. Choose candidates for good work ethics that can appear more useful than even a greater professional experience.
    6. Communicate your expectations to candidates before they sign up for the project.

2) Building a Project Team

Even though you managed to assemble a group of persons who seem to match all your requirements in terms of their professional level, skills and attitudes, you don’t have a workable team yet. Now, you will need to be continually working at development and coaching this group of individuals to become a real single-minded team.

    a) Leadership:

    1. Leadership is another sure step to project success. It is not correctly to say that a team must have a sole leader, but a team needs a core group of proactive members who will share leadership to move project towards its objectives.
    2. Form a core of several the most experienced and skillful team members who will be appointed to major roles on leadership. Certain portions of leadership are assigned to all team members, so they can creatively collaborate, but there always should be some senior supervisors.
    3. Leaders should be respected and recognized by all the team members. Team leaders represent, promote and secure the project’s ideology, values and mission.
    4. Leadership means friendly coaching and assistance, so the team leaders aren’t commanders in the team, but rather attentive helpers, guides and examples of excellent performance.

    b) Meetings and Team-Building:

    1. Hold regular meetings throughout the project execution.
    2. Meetings can be conditionally classified in such a way:
      • Administrative meetings – regular face-to-face meetings or teleconferencing to be held for supporting project tasks, ideology, motivation and strategy, for decision-making, checking upon individual and team plans, strengthening commitment and exploring intentions.
      • Check-up meetings – periodic meetings held to update the progress upon certain previously agreed matters, tasks and plans.
      • Introductory meetings – periodic or occasional meetings held to introduce new tasks, some significant project news and changes, new team members, etc.
      • Team-building events – different types of casual meetings called to make relations in the team easier, friendlier and better in all other respects, to improve overall team collaboration.
    3. All kinds of meetings should be rather pre-scheduled, than spontaneous to prevent interrupting the working process and to let the team members getting prepared beforehand.
    4. All meetings should be held by an experienced facilitator and should adhere to clear timing and meeting agenda to avoid situations when people spend too much time not for working, but for attending meetings.
    5. Invest into team-building events to let people know each other better.

    c) Productive Atmosphere:

    • With a help of team leaders observe how people collaborate and communicate.
    • Make sure there is no psychological pressure in collective.
    • Make sure any interpersonal conflicts are prevented and resolved early.
    • Encourage team members to freely discuss their problems or assignments.
    • Compliment achievements and help to resolve any issues.
    • Consider opinions and inputs from team members.
    • Respect their professionalism and diligence with frequent feedback.
    • Eliminate any favoritism, individualism and fear.
    • Make sure everyone aims to work. Suppress any destructive behaviors early.

3) Organizing a Project Team

Once a team is formed up and its members are introduced to each other, it is necessary to introduce them to their duties and tasks.

  1. Make sure the team is instructed and agreed upon the project purpose, timeline, scope and other matters.
  2. Make sure that everyone understands the conception, mission and ideology of the project.
  3. Make sure everyone is introduced to existing managerial policies.
  4. Ensure that everyone has been properly introduced to his/her work package (individual tasks, responsibility and tools).
  5. Make sure everyone accepts the performance standards and objectives.
  6. Ensure that the team members accept their assigned tasks and develop detailed plans and solutions where appropriate.
  7. Make sure the supervisors have reviewed and approved these individual plans and solutions.
  8. Make sure the supervisors provide all necessary administrative support to team members.
  9. Make sure individual and group assignments are scheduled on working calendars.

4) A way to create and manage a team with VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a product that stands for collaboration between managers and employees, so it allows managers to supervise and support employees in terms of their particular tasks and goals. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to team up people using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Resource List mode;
  • Task Tree mode;
  • Calendar mode;

Resource List mode actions:

  1. List your employees – enter their names, personal details and credentials;
  2. Create Roles to be assigned to team leaders (you may use “Unlimited” role – team leaders may need to supervise all tasks on the project);
  3. Create Roles to be assigned to team members, suiting their responsibilities;
  4. Use “Notifications” tab to select types of progress notifications to let people stay in touch;

Task Tree mode actions:

  1. Set work decomposition maintaining tasks and task groups;
  2. Create in each group appropriate sub-groups and sequenced tasks;
  3. Where possible give team members their personal folders where they can plan their own tasks;
  4. Set estimated timeframes for each essential task (Start and Finish dates);
  5. Set personal objectives on tasks and attach specifications (documents) to tasks;
  6. Guide your team by giving guidelines in “Notes” sections of each task;
  7. Direct workflow order by appointing different priorities to tasks;
  8. Assign tasks and groups to appropriate resources;
  9. Get tasks reported through their Statuses and other attributes;
  10. Maintain feedbacks and communications via “Comments” section;

Calendar mode actions:

  1. Use Calendar mode and its capabilities to review project timeline and individual assignments;
  2. Appoint team meetings and team building events, along with planning their attendees;

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