Getting Started

Congratulations!  You’ve just received your new project assignment!  As project manager, you are propelled into the project.  You need human resources to help scope, plan, and execute the project on schedule and within budget.  You need a variety of skills and expertise to support the project’s complicated needs — and you need them quickly.

Sound familiar?  There are four easy steps to follow to ensure a strong team foundation as you are getting started:

  1. Define the Team.  Always identify what you need, not who you need.  Clearly identify the skills, experience, and qualifications for each required team member.  You are more likely to find what you need when recruiting team members by attributes versus names. When you approach functional managers to request resources, describe the skills, expertise, and assets of what you need — you are effectively informing managers how to develop other staff memebers who might not quite have what it takes to make the team today.  This has long-term value for both you as the requesting manager and the functional manager. 
  2. Define the Project.  It is critical that everyone understands the project’s goal because this is one of the best ways to turn a group into a team.  Having the project clearly defined is a great starting point to ensure everyone has the same shared vision and is working toward the same outcomes.  In other words, everyone should be able to answer the key question, “What are we doing?”  Unless everyone is capable of answering this question with confidence, accuracy, and consistency, there is little chance that the group assigned to execute the project will do so successfully.
  3. Identify Supporting Team Behaviors.  Determining the “right” set of behaviors to support productive teamwork is never easy because team dynamics are intricate and difficult.  Ideally, a set of behaviors to best support teamwork must be articulated in a universal language because these behaviors need to be owned by everyone on the team. 
  4. Establish Accountability.  Engage your team members to establish a culture of accountability.  In other words, how will each person on the team support the team behaviors?  How will members on the team address those who do not adhere to the behaviors?  How will feedback be exchanged among team members?  As the team leader, it is critical that you provide objectivity to the group process, you offer everyone a voice, and you guide the group as a whole to create the “right” set of guidelines for the group as a whole.

Four easy steps.  Lasting value.

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