Whether you are managing small projects or large & complex ones, you cannot do everything on your own. You need a competent team to take your project towards success. Selecting the right people for your team is critical for successful projects. To do that, project managers should follow five stages of project team development as published by Bruce Wayne Tuckman.
Project team development process begins with forming stage. At this stage, team members are given an opportunity to know each other well. They are cautious in their behavior with each other because every member is creating a picture in their mind about other co-workers. All team members discuss project objectives and what role each team member will play in the project. The focus is on knowing each other and the reason why they are together instead of work.
Few meetings take place at this stage and focus is always on understanding the roles and rapport building with teammates. Apart from focusing on project goals, team members will get a clear direction how to go about achieving the project objectives at this stage. Moreover, their roles and responsibilities and how team collaborates on tasks will be discussed in the forming stage. This stage will lay a solid platform for team building and help you in smoothly taking-off your project from ground.
One of the most important phases of project team development is storming phase. Whether old or new, every team goes through this phase. The risk of workplace conflicts increases tremendously at this stage because there is a difference of opinion between colleagues. That is where the role of project managers comes into play. It is the responsibility of project managers to take measures to avoid conflicts. If conflicts become unavoidable, then ensure those involved reach an amicable & acceptable solution.
Keeping team members on the same page is vital for achieving project’s objectives. This is only possible if you teach your subordinates to respect the opinion of every other team member instead of trying to impose their opinion. If this does not happen, then it will put a huge dent on the motivation level of employees and negatively affect project’s progress. Furthermore, your project team’s development will not go beyond this stage.
After a turbulent storming phase, it is time for your team to settle down in the norming phase. When employees are fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their co-workers, they start functioning better as a team. As a result, they frequently give their feedback and opinion, which would go a long way in bringing positive change.
At this stage, company “norms” takes shape which results in policy formation that will provide guideline for future projects. More importantly, project hierarchy is established at this stage so every team member knows about their immediate bosses & subordinates.
As soon as the project hierarchy is established and all team members know about it, your project starts propelling at a rapid pace towards its completion due to improved teamwork. The focus will shift from team building and development to actual project completion and improving performance.
Project managers can take a sigh of relief as soon as the project team enters the performing phase because all he or she has to do now is to delegate tasks. At this stage, lesser supervision will be required because the team would be operating independently with a higher level of motivation. This makes the job of project managers a walk in the park.
On the other hand, this phase would push the limits of your team members, as they would have to take the responsibility on their shoulder. This can go either way. If your team members manage the responsibilities well, you can be one-step closer towards a successful completion of the project, but if that does not happen; your project would be in danger. Addition and exclusion of team members will not hamper the progress of the project at this stage.
The last stage of the team development cycle is adjourning. It is the ultimate destination for all project teams. At this stage, organizational restructuring takes place and due to organizational restructuring teams are disbanded. Team members working on a single project will have to take different roles and work with other teams. That is why many teams who have found chemistry and coordinates well with their team members will find this phase quite challenging.
Settling in a completely new setup will not be easy for team members, as they have to get familiar with the new environment quickly and deliver results. Employees who are used to adapting to the changes and working in dynamic environments will not find this phase disturbing them. This gives new employees to learn new things and an opportunity to work with different people. If everything goes smoothly, by the end of this phase you would be celebrating with your team members.
Let your team members become well acquainted with each other and communicate the goals and objectives that need achieving. Next, establish rules and ensure that all team members religiously follow these rules. Tell your team members to respect each other and their opinions and work cohesively as a team to achieve a common objective.
Delegate your work to team members so they can take the responsibility. Make them own the project and develop problem-solving skills instead of spoon-feeding them. If project managers follow the team development process as mentioned above, they could easily get the best out of their project teams and become champions at developing and managing different teams. Share your team development experiences in the comments section below.