Building an effective ‘project’ team


Many projects fail because of the lack of a coherent and effective team. Even in operations, many companies and organisations fail to achieve their objectives because they do not have good and effective teams to carry out the operational activities.

Today, we will discuss one of the models that you can use to effectively manage your team through different phases of the project that your team is managing. If you are leading an operational team, you can still customise the model to fit into operational activities. We will focus on the “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing” team management model.

During the forming phase of the team management cycle, you need to be mostly concerned with ensuring that every member of the team is given the necessary support to settle into the new team.

This is the time for team members to showcase their experiences and skills in a non-threatening environment. This is also the time to identify critical gaps in the communication channels within the team and to fix these before the team is badly hit by conflicts arising from poor communication protocols.

The next phase of managing the team is the period when many team members generate many exciting and interesting ideas. This is what is called the “Storming” phase. As team leader, you need to allow as much freedom for the team members to exercise their creativity while building on ideas of others wherever possible. In some instances, you might have to step in to sharpen the transitions between ideas from different team members.

In the norming phase, you as the team leader need to help the team to integrate and converge many ideas into unified position statements. While by now, you will have allowed a lot of flexibility, diversity in views and creativity, there is a time to integrate views into single decisions. But this needs to be done skilfully and with empathy. Be aware that group dynamics can sometimes result in too many ideas being generated and shared or very few ideas being crafted.

As team leader, it is your responsibility to regulate the number of ideas being generated by the team so that you just have the right balance. If very few ideas are being generated, you might consider giving an example to give time to others to think about their own ideas. Similarly, when too many ideas are coming up, look for ways of showing similarities between any ideas that can be grouped together.

In the performing phase, your focus should now shift to ensuring the team is implementing the agreed tasks. It is important that from the onset, you agree on common objectives and a shared vision so that when any team members deviate, you can always bring them back to the focal point that ensures that every member of the team tows in the same direction. As team leader, you need to ensure that the team has a conducive environment for delivery of their actions-this is an environment that has an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect so that every team member feels motivated to contribute their actions to the team’s cause.

Managing teams will never be easy. We need multiple models that can be used in different team scenarios for managing the team as we deliver actions towards the set objectives of the team. This week we have looked at one model that you can use to manage your team through four of the typical team phases. Try using this model next time you lead a team and keep improving the usage of the model until you master its application. Good luck!!!

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