Employees undoubtedly have a significant influence on the process of project creation in their company. A project team is usually given certain tasks and activities which have to be completed. However, whether or not the work is completed successfully is a different matter in practice. If a manager is unable to motivate his subordinates to work effectively, the deadline might not be met or the project might be flawed. Neither of the options is beneficial to the company or the client. Therefore, in order to avoid such problems, a good manager has to carefully assemble his team. How to do it? In this article, we will try to analyze the many variables which have to be considered when creating a team, and we will describe what the whole process is about.
The importance of feedback
Effective communication within a project team and between its members and their management is very important. Feedback is a means by which employees can deal with misunderstandings and unclear matters. Proper exchange of information can be considered as one of the most important factors influencing the effectiveness of the whole project team. Thanks to feedback, we reduce the losses of effectiveness which occur at every workplace. We must not forget that a team is not merely a sum of all the individuals that create it. Similarly, the amount of information that individuals have will not be identical to the amount of information in possession of the whole project team. In the light of this fact, the identification of limitations and the search for the best possible means of increasing individual effectiveness does not result in the increase of the effectiveness of the team as a whole.
In order to be able to receive every possible piece of information from the project environment and to confront it with data directly related to project related processes, we have to establish a system of information exchange between the members of our project team. Misinformation leads to the destruction of a team or to the reduction of its effectiveness, therefore, it should be avoided. In order to assemble an effective team of specialists it is highly advisable to use a computer-based project management system. Such an application would include information on project assumptions, current matters related to its completion, and other significant data. If employees are fully informed, they work more effectively, and they become more committed to the tasks assigned by their project manager. The project management system should be available to all interested in it, so not only the project team, but also customers and company directors. These people have to have the ability to ask questions within the system and to provide answers and explanation if a need arises.
The limitations of a project team
Every person has some limitations. We have to learn to accept them and to live with them. These limitations influence our abilities to cope with problems that may happen within our team. If the skills of employees complement each other, the project realization process happens without interference, and the work of team members is indeed effective.
Once a new person is implemented into an effective team or when totally new situations arise, the way of functioning of the group changes. Data should be provided to the staff in such a way that every member understands the goals that lie before him and the team as a whole. It is essential that they know why they have to act in a certain way, what they can achieve as a team, and how to reach their goal. If a team has easy access to the source of feedback (like a computer-based project management system), the richness of hints helps individual members become more effective. What is interesting, a team might actually need feedback on how it functions. Objective self-monitoring also helps in the formation of an effective team.
Most teams require feedback on their functioning and effectiveness and on cooperation between individual members. Data is needed on the extent to which the skills and capabilities of individuals are used and on the general effectiveness of the team as a group of people who pursue some specific goals.
New project teams
The significance of feedback increases in a situation in which we deal with a totally new team of employees who have not cooperated with each other before. Such people do not have rules on project realization or informal norms because such regulations have not been formulated yet. They are not fully aware of the roles they are to play. Thanks to feedback – or effective communication – employees can learn something from comments even before some wrong habits of cooperation appear. They can put aside their defensive mechanisms which inhibit the natural effectiveness of the team as a whole. The need to create a proper culture of open communication is the reason why newly formed teams of employees require extensive feedback from their superiors. It has to be stated that young teams that make use of the same data immediately give feedback to their colleagues and develop their effectiveness. Without this readiness to share and exchange data, it is hard for a team to constantly increase its effectiveness.
An ineffective team – how to repair the situation
As in the case of new teams, the ones which show little effectiveness during their routine tasks more than anything else require up-to-date feedback. Otherwise, they are unable to fully fulfill the tasks assigned to them. Team members are able to properly identify the reasons of their low effectiveness if they receive adequate information from external sources. The ability to look from a different point of view helps in the recognition of the causes of ineffectiveness which are otherwise hidden. It is important to motivate employees to search for the problems they make daily. Low effectiveness of a team can be caused by the ineffectiveness of a single individual. Such a person is often engulfed in a defensive mechanism, i.e., his or her mistakes are covered by other employees of the same project team.
Low effectiveness can also be caused by such factors as wrong rules of functioning, wrong interdependence structure, and other.
How to build the effectiveness of an experienced team
Cooperation between team members creates very strong ties between people after some time. It is a story of successes and failures. This is why a team of this kind has already formed some habits, ways of behavior, methods of information and knowledge exchange, shared visions, and expectations. However, it often turns out that experienced teams have problems with effectiveness. The methods that were considered effective before now inhibit work. If a team is to solve this problem, it has to receive and send feedback and take a look at the issue from a different point of view. Employees have to learn from their own mistakes which occur regardless of their level of experience in a given field. Past habits established in a team of employees can prove to be a barrier and an obstacle in contemporary times. As time passes, people who work with each other as a team lose flexibility. This is a natural mechanism that helps in coping with the complexity of the world. Experienced teams often claim to have an ideal strategy and good tactics of work and think that any changes to their style might be harmful. This is why they refuse to implement any changes – and this is a big mistake. By doing so, they reduce their effectiveness. The questioning of the efficiency and suitability of traditional solutions makes it possible to implement changes which automatically lead to the increase in effectiveness of the team as a whole.
How to form an effective team
A team has the capability to achieve the expected results at a given level of effectiveness if it consists of carefully chosen individuals. In order to create an effective team the first thing is to clearly establish its goal. The aim should be specific, precise, measurable, accepted by all those who strive to achieve it, and possible to reach in a specified period of time. Second, we have to consider the amount and the kind of resources necessary to reach the goal. This means that we have to carefully analyze if the funds at our company’s disposal, the data we are provided, and the qualifications of our team members are sufficient enough to ensure the project’s successful realization. Third, we have to establish basic rules of functioning of our team because only an effective team knows on what rules its work is based. Fourth, we have to adequately motivate all team members to work harder and, in consequence, more effectively. Motivating has to cover both – the realization of current tasks and activities, and the achievement of specific results of work. Fifth, we have to present the criteria of evaluation to all members of the project team. It is best to do so even before we begin the actual work. Sixth, we have to work on assembling our team – we have to pick the right individuals. It is worth to emphasize that participation in the process of project creation must not be forced upon someone and it must not be the result of a coincidence. The criteria of choosing people for our undertaking must stem from the tasks that lie before the team and the capabilities and competences of its individual members. The last stage of the formation of an effective team is the choice of a formal leader of the group. The role of such a person is to coordinate the work of all team members, assign tasks to specific people, provide feedback, and solve any conflicts.
The creation of an effective project team is usually the most important factor influencing the extent of the success of a given project. Thanks to higher effectiveness of the group of people who work on a specific undertaking, there is a higher probability that the work will be successful, that the project will be completed in accordance with a previously prepared plan, and that it will be finished on time.