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Building Teamwork

~ By Kenneth Darter

Teamwork and puzzle pieces with people signs on a blue background

In order for a project to be successful, a team of workers has to get along and work together. They must support the common project work. These teams could be large or small. Backgrounds and experience can often be vastly different.

It's not these things that matter so much, though. It's how everyone comes together to work as a cohesive team. It's how they engage in teamwork.

Often, no one gets to pick the teams they're placed on. Yet everyone is expected to get along and get busy working on the project. The project manager is often left with the responsibility of making sure that the teams produce the work needed for the project. That no issues impede their progress.

Teamwork isn't something that just happens. The project leader needs to put in the time and effort to build the team and help everyone get along together. Only then can they focus on getting the job done.

Three essential elements help make sure you're building a functional team that works together to drive results.

Clear Objectives

The first step in creating a cohesive team is to have clear team objectives. If some of the team members think the objective of the project is to finish everything quickly and throw a product at the client, but the other team members are focused on building a quality product, then you will not have a team that plays well together.

The entire team should be aware of not just the scope of project work, but also the primary objectives of the management team. Setting clear objectives lets you provide answers to crucial questions:

  • Is budget a primary concern?
  • Or is it time?
  • Is there a hard deadline that the team must meet for the project?

If everyone has a clear understanding of the project objectives and priorities, then they'll work together better.

Team Meetings

One great way to knit a team together is to hold regular team meetings. While you may think you can get everything across in a quick email, it might be much more helpful to get everyone together (physically or virtually). Then, you can have a discussion instead of just broadcasting your message.

Bringing people together to work through issues or problems is part of separates project management from just management. The project manager should strive to hold engaging, productive team meetings. What to avoid: just one person going through a list or telling everyone what to do.

Open Doors

In order to have any kind of functional team, though, you need to make sure that the doors are open. A team is not run by dictatorship, even if there's one person who is the leader. In order to accomplish the goals, every member on the team needs to understand that they are all contributors.

They must understand that everything they do will have an impact on the end result of the project. If you find people on the team not listening to others or trying to force their ideas and opinions on the rest of the team, then some steps need to be taken, and quickly.

Open the doors. Learn to listen to the entire team, not just the one or two people who are the loudest. Teams thrive in an open environment as long as there is structure. As long as there's a leader who's clearly interested and vested in working with the team members.

Building these three elements into every project you lead translates into building teamwork. The kind that gets your projects done at a high level, on time and on budget.


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