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Develop Project Team: Tools and Techniques


Develop Project Team: Tools and Techniques

.1 General Management Skills

Interpersonal skills (Section 1.5.5), sometimes known as 'soft skills,' are particularly important to team development. By understanding the sentiments of project team members, anticipating their actions, acknowledging their concerns, and following up on their issues, the project management team can greatly reduce problems and increase cooperation. Skills such as empathy, influence, creativity, and group facilitation are valuable assets when managing the project team.

.2 Training

Training includes all activities designed to enhance the competencies of the project team members. Training can be formal or informal. Examples of training methods include classroom, online, computer-based, on-the-job training from another project team member, mentoring, and coaching.

If project team members lack necessary management or technical skills, such skills can be developed as part of the project work. Scheduled training takes place as stated in the staffing management plan. Unplanned training takes place as a result of observation, conversation, and project performance appraisals conducted during the controlling process of managing the project team.

.3 Team-Building Activities

Team-building activities can vary from a five-minute agenda item in a status review meeting to an off-site, professionally facilitated experience designed to improve interpersonal relationships. Some group activities, such as developing the WBS, may not be explicitly designed as team-building activities, but can increase team cohesiveness when that planning activity is structured and facilitated well. It also is important to encourage informal communication and activities because of their role in building trust and establishing good working relationships. Team- building strategies are particularly valuable when team members operate virtually from remote locations, without the benefit of face-to-face contact.

.4 Ground Rules

Ground rules establish clear expectations regarding acceptable behavior by project team members. Early commitment to clear guidelines decreases misunderstandings and increases productivity. The process of discussing ground rules allows team members to discover values that are important to one another. All project team members share responsibility for enforcing the rules once they are established.

.5 Co-Location

Co-location involves placing many or all of the most active project team members in the same physical location to enhance their ability to perform as a team. Colocation can be temporary, such as at strategically important times during the project, or for the entire project. Co-location strategy can include a meeting room, sometimes called a war room, with electronic communication devices, places to post schedules, and other conveniences that enhance communication and a sense of community. While co-location is considered good strategy, the use of virtual teams will reduce the frequency that team members are located together.

.6 Recognition and Rewards

Part of the team development process involves recognizing and rewarding desirable behavior. The original plans concerning ways to reward people are developed during Human Resource Planning (Section 9.1). Award decisions are made, formally or informally, during the process of managing the project team through performance appraisals (Section 9.4.2.2).

Only desirable behavior should be rewarded. For example, the willingness to work overtime to meet an aggressive schedule objective should be rewarded or recognized; needing to work overtime as the result of poor planning should not be rewarded. Win-lose (zero sum) rewards that only a limited number of project team members can achieve, such as team member of the month, can hurt team cohesiveness. Rewarding win-win behavior that everyone can achieve, such as turning in progress reports on time, tends to increase support among team members.

Recognition and rewards should consider cultural differences. For example, developing appropriate team rewards in a culture that encourages individualism can be difficult.


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