The art behind how to build an effective project team goes far beyond a data-driven recruitment policy. There is no end to the strategies, leadership skills, and use of software that can help make your team greater than the sum of its parts. However, that won’t stop us from trying to cover them all in this article.
So if you’re at a loose end or simply looking for ways to refine your project management team, turn off your distractions and pay close attention.
Of the keys to successful project management, laying out well-defined goals is surely the most ubiquitous of them all. You should explain your goals in detail to the team as a whole and why they are important to your clients and to you as an organization.
Goals help you measure success as a manager, and checking them off is a great motivator for your team. For the best results, bear in mind SMART methodology from the outset. Your goals should be:
Specific — easy to understand, and not too broad to manage
Measurable — time or scope constrained, with metrics to indicate good performance
Attainable — within the capabilities of your individuals as well as project resources
Relevant — each goal should contribute to the overall project success
Timely — set deadlines to incentivize your teams and keep your work on course
Clear goals are a core element for how to build an effective project team as they help everybody understand not just what they’re doing, but why. Many managers increase the likelihood of a successful project by working on goals in collaboration with their team. This gives each individual a sense of ownership about what they’re doing, which is ideal for engagement.
We’ve touched on how goals can help to align a team, but what kind of team do you want in the first place?
A hiring strategy to build an effective project team should always focus on diversity. We’re talking both in terms of background and working style. Ideally, you’ll build a team that represents a vast range of perspectives — that’s what drives your creativity. If you pack your team full of people who think like you and draw their inspiration from the same places, you can’t expect to bring about innovative solutions.
Having said that, a diverse team won’t all want to work in the same way, and you need to be prepared for that. Therefore, your project team structure should include different working styles. For example, in-person or video meetings favor big personalities, while more methodical workers might need to go away and give issues some deep thought before coming up with the goods.
Therefore, when considering how to create teams in project management, you need to focus on hiring, but also on giving each individual the opportunity to express themselves.
While the advantages of a diverse team are clear for all to see, if everybody is singing from a different sheet, your projects will barely get off the ground. Therefore, to build an effective project team, you need to set some common ground rules so you can channel each individual’s creativity in a productive way.
This is all about creating a positive atmosphere that people are happy to be a part of. Classic traits of these cultures include encouragement from everybody and allowing people to speak up with new or left-field ideas.
We’d advise you to create a set of expectations for your project management team. Far from micromanaging, you can write them in collaboration with your team and cover areas that are beneficial for all. Areas you can cover include:
Behavior — supporting each other while rejecting aggression and toxicity
Working practices — using the same tools and strategies to collaborate and communicate
Responsibility — individuals being accountable for praise and criticism
Conflict resolution — clear expectations and a fair, unbiased inquiry system
Now you’ve got your team, you should think carefully about how you deploy them during a project. It’s rare that you’ll have a dream team that aligns perfectly with each task, so there will inevitably be a bit of crossover. However, by matching individuals with their speciality as much as possible, you’ll have a far more efficient and motivated team.
Aside from the practical functions, you can also offer different responsibility roles for each task. This helps to create an environment of accountability to help your project team structure and get each task over the line. As we’ll see in the following section, you can include these task-specific accountability levels as you build an effective project team in your management software. Levels include:
Responsible person — the one ultimately in charge of the task who chases up missing work and solves any problems that arise.
Creator — for easy accountability when looking for why the task was created in the first place.
Participants — these people will do the legwork and stay up to date on any changes or requests.
Observers — usually senior profiles, observers are those who need to see the progress of the task, but won’t actively participate.
Assigning clear roles is essential to successful project management as it reduces questions of who should do what. Even more than that, the sense of accountability goes a long way to stopping tricky elements falling through the cracks.
There are endless ways that software can help to build an effective project team, but at the core is powerful team project management software. With the best tools for your projects, you and your team have one dashboard to visualize all your goals, tasks, responsible people, deadlines, instructions… you get the picture.
We’d recommend working with your team to explore different formats, such as Kanban boards and Gantt charts, to see what works best for everybody. Then, you can get on with scheduling your project and assigning tasks.
Supercharge your software with automations. Some of the best automations for project management include automating your workflows so tasks are assigned when they are ready with zero input from you.
Many managers get slightly anxious when relinquishing responsibility to the algorithms. However, the best team project management software will come with analytics and reporting where you can keep an eye on tasks approaching their deadlines, performance metrics, updates on each task. Take stock of your progress at regular intervals and address any issues before they grow into project-threatening problems for a smooth-running project management team.
Poor communication is an ever-present threat to projects. Whether it’s because of personal differences or poorly planned strategies, when communication breaks down it leads to unfinished tasks, wasted time, and confusion. You should already have detailed your communication strategy in the working culture section, but here is where we’ll explore the technicalities.
When you build an effective project team, you need to set the standards from the outset and keep everybody on board. One key example is to channel all task-related communication through your project management tool. You can’t expect people to trawl through their inboxes and instant messaging system whenever they need to find instructions. By containing it in one place, you seriously reduce time wasted and keep everybody on the same page.
For the best chances of running a successful project, you should consider which communication tools you use for every situation. For example, you could use video conferences for introductory meetings and updates at regular intervals. Email works well for announcements, but shouldn’t be overloaded with communication. Instant messenger is great for quick questions and social chat that holds teams together, but remember that important updates can easily get lost in private messages.
Build an effective project team with powerful project management software.
Being adaptable at work is becoming more and more important across industries in response to a rapidly changing business landscape as well as technological advances. Even without these elements, no matter how well you plan your projects, you can’t predict the future. And when you need to change direction, you need the backing of your team.
In real terms, this means you need people who are willing and able to wear different hats through the project. You might need your finance team to play a bigger role in planning your overall goals or a communications specialist turning their hand to sales. As we mentioned before, try to match people to jobs that require their skill set as much as possible, but be extra encouraging of those who are really stepping out of the box.
Similarly, you need your team to be aligned on the business tools they use. For security, efficiency, and clarity throughout your project, working with individuals who are happy to learn new software is essential to successful project management.
Even the best performers can hold your project back if they can’t adapt to being a team player. Therefore, as you build an effective project team, consider each individual’s flexibility and commitment to the bigger picture.
Like creating a healthy working culture, team building is one of those soft strategies that can make small teams outperform their more well-funded competitors.
Especially when it comes to remote work, creating a team that gels together is a key part of making everybody feel valued and united. If you’re located in the same area, you can launch social events to break down the barriers that can be hard to overcome in the office. If you’re working on the cloud, video conferencing activities, such as quizzes or competitions are a great way of connecting people.
The practical effects of having a strong team are clear in how people communicate with each other. There is a level of trust and comfortability that means asking for a favor is no big deal and individuals are more likely to pull their weight and cover for each other.
Some of the most important work to build an effective project team takes place behind the scenes. Specifically, we’re talking about the workflows that you can launch at the click of a button and tweak and improve to streamline your team even further next time.
Workflows are an integral part of project management: Every project has processes that are identical in terms of tasks, albeit different in content. Take the following lead generation steps for example:
Once you find a system that works, create a repeatable template and launch it for every project. Not only will you save time in planning, but everybody will be used to it and therefore work more effectively. Throughout the project, you should be on the constant lookout for ways to improve your processes and make your team even more efficient in the future.
If you’re experienced as a project manager, you’ll already know that leadership goes far beyond assigning tasks and taking home the biggest pay packet. You are ultimately responsible for your team cohesion — motivating them, resolving conflicts, and supporting them when the going gets tough.
Some of the more practical aspects of leadership include scheduling catch-ups on an individual and team level (but not letting them take up valuable working time). Remember to be private with your constructive criticism, but public with your praise, whether it’s in person or on your company intranet for remote teams. You should also lead the end-of-project review and reflection — an ideal opportunity to plant the seeds of improvement for upcoming projects.
Finally, your leadership style can be a driver of motivation and growth among your team. Experiment with delegating tasks to those who have proved themselves to take on the responsibility, and offer training opportunities if someone expresses a desire to broaden their skillset.
Now you’ve got a clear idea of how to create teams in project management, as well as how to keep them performing and motivated. However, it won’t have escaped your awareness that by using the right technology in your team, you can all work much more efficiently and pull in the same direction.
That’s why Bitrix24 goes far beyond an already impressive project management tool. Natively integrated on the cloud with communication channels, collaborative docs, recruitment tools, and so much more, it sets the groundwork so you and your team can focus on what they do best.
So if you’re looking to build an effective project team, Bitrix24 is the place to begin. Sign up for free today and start managing your teams like a pro.