Unleashing your leadership potential for breakthrough results
The higher management of your company appoints you to lead the project team. You will be working on different projects depending on the circumstance. For example, your team could be at a trade show one day developing sales leads and be back at work the next day working on a new product introduction.
Your project team is multidimensional, which means that the members have come from different technical backgrounds, cultures and age groups. You must find a way to bring out the best in these team members.
So how do you get your team up and running? Here are few tips.
1.Remove barriers – What gets in the way of a team member performing their task? Communicate about any personal or team blockers that might prevent the work from even getting started.
2.Reward team behaviour – Support individual performance and overall team performance, especially when they’re collaborating together to get the job done. Teams work well, when they’re supported and praised as a team.
3.Set specific dates and follow-up – Don’t just ‘set it and forget it’ with your team. Know that you’re there for them, not by micro-managing, but by following up to see how they’re doing. Do they need support to get their tasks done on time? Are they being blocked? You won’t know unless you follow up.
4.Clarify expectations – Make sure to communicate all the expectations for individuals and the whole team. Efficiency is not achieved in isolation. Make it clear to that team that they are to support each other as a team, in order for the entire project to succeed. And this starts with you as a vital member of the team. You model this early and often.
If you can put all these steps in place you’re on your way to running a more efficient team and a smoother sailing project.
Every project team goes through the five stages of team development
Stage 1: Forming
The ‘forming’ stage takes place when the team learns about the project they will be working on. They will discuss the project’s objectives/goals and start to think about what role they will play on the project team. They are not yet working on the project. They are, effectively, ‘feeling each other out’ and finding their way around how they might work together in the project.
During this initial stage of team growth, it is important for the team leader to be very clear about the team goals and provide clear direction regarding the project. He should ensure that all of the members are involved in determining team roles and responsibilities and should work with the team to help them establish how they will work together (‘team norms’).
Stage 2: Storming
This stage is not avoidable; every team goes through this part of developing as a team. In this stage, the team members compete with each other for status and for acceptance of their ideas. They have different opinions on what should be done and how it should be done.
As they go progress through this stage, with the guidance of the team leader, they learn how to solve problems together, function both independently and together as a team and settle into roles and responsibilities on the team.
The team leader needs to be skilful at facilitating the team through this stage – ensuring the team members learn to listen to each other and respect their differences and ideas. This includes not allowing any one team member to control all conversations and to facilitate contributions from all members of the team. The team leader will need to coach some team members to be more assertive and other team members on how to be more effective listeners.
This stage will come to a closure when the team learns how to work together for the victory of the project. At this point, the team leader should start transitioning some decision-making to the team to allow them more independence, but still stay involved to resolve any conflicts as quickly as possible.
Stage 3: Norming
When the team moves into this stage, they are beginning to work more effectively as a team. They are no longer focused on their individual goals but rather are focused on developing a way of working together (processes and procedures). They respect each other’s opinions and value their differences.
In this stage, the team has agreed on their team rules for working together, how they will share information and resolve team conflict and what tools and processes they will use to get the job done. The team members begin to trust each other and actively seek each other out for assistance and input. The team members also start to make significant progress on the project as they begin working together more effectively.
In this stage, the team leader may not be as involved in decision-making and problem-solving since the team members are working better together and can take on more responsibility in these areas. The team has greater self-direction and is able to resolve issues and conflict as a group. On occasion, however, the team leader may step into move things along if the team gets stuck. The team leader should always ensure that the team members are working collaboratively and may begin to function as a coach to the members of the team.
Stage 4: Performing
In this stage, teams are functioning at a very high level. The focus is on reaching the goal as a group. The team functions without oversight and the members have become interdependent. The team is highly motivated to get the job done. They can make decisions and problems are solved quickly and effectively.
When they disagree, the team members can work through it and come to consensus without interrupting the project’s progress. If there needs to be a change in team processes – the team will come to agreement on changing processes on their own without reliance on the team leader.
In this stage, the team leader is not involved in decision-making, problem-solving or other such activities involving the day-to-day work of the team. The team members work effectively as a group and do not need the oversight that is required at the other stages. The team leader will continue to monitor the progress of the team and celebrate milestone achievements with the team to continue to build team camaraderie. The team leader will also serve as the gateway when decisions need to be reached at a higher level within the organisation.
Stage 5: Adjourning
In this stage, the project is coming to an end and the team members are moving off into different directions. This stage looks at the team from the perspective of the well-being of the team rather than from the perspective of managing a team through the original four stages of team growth.
The team leader should ensure that there is time for the team to celebrate the success of the project and capture best practices for future use. (Or, if it was not a successful project – to evaluate what happened and capture lessons learned for future projects. Teams that are not working effectively together will display the obvious characteristics. The team leader will need to be actively involved with such teams. The sooner the team leader addresses issues and helps the team move to a more effective way of working together, the more likely the project is to end successfully.
(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired corporate director counting three decades of senior management experience. He is now an independent consultant and a freelance journalist. He may be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)
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