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Team Types

Dick Billows, PMP
DicK Billows, PMP

When you take over a team from another leader, one of the first things you do is make a quick assessment of the team’s culture or type. While each of the individual team member will be different, you always find there is an overall project team culture that has developed. That culture reflects the previous project manager’s leadership style, the “baggage” that the team members bring with them from previous projects, and the events that have taken place in the life of this project team since it was formed. Leading Teams Main Page

We can think of the culture of a project team in many ways. One useful way is to think of a project team culture is having for ingredients or dimensions to it. The proportions of each determine what the culture is actually like. But all teams have, to some extent, these components: Leadership & Team Performance

  • affiliation – is an ingredient that measures the amount of trust, partnership feelings synergy or affiliation between the members.  Some teams exist solely for the purpose of this togetherness and so there scores on this dimension of culture will be very high.  Examples of teams with very high scores on affiliation between the members  might include social clubs, religious congregations.
  • task control –  this cultural ingredient is an orientation towards predictability, stability and order we keep control of what’s happening to ensure that we followed the correct methods and procedures and follow all the rules to get the job done. Hierarch and stability and proven methodologies are very important here.   Examples of teams  with high scores on task control orientation would be a prison road gaining cleaning trash from the side of a highway. Or a group of workers  on assembly line working next to robots.
  • personal development – this ingredient of the culture  has to deal with the orientation  towards the development and personal growth  of the members.  Creativity, dedication and commitment to the purpose of the team are very important. Examples of teams with a strong   dose of this cultural dimension might be, a motorcycle or reading clubs.
  • professional competence –  this last ingredient of the team culture captures the orientation in the team to achieve excellence in their work and profession.   When this dimension is strong in a team there is pressure on people to be “the best”   and that means they are creative professionals who know their business and use the best practices when they do their work.  this ingredient is very strong in management consulting teams and winning sports franchises where there is pure pressure on all the members to be the best at what they do.

All teams blend  these four ingredients into a culture that is in many ways the rules you have to follow to be a member of the team.  New individuals joining the team go through a learning process where they learn what things are important in the culture and what things are not.  A team member coming from a team with a strong affiliation component to its culture will have a significant adaptation to a new team where the strongest of the ingredients is professional competence.   this new team member will make  mistakes. In this example, they will  behave in a way that is very nurturing and supportive of other team members. Bot in the new team with its  cultural emphasis on professionalism and the excellence of performance and being the best, that nurturing will seem very inappropriate. Leadership and Team Assignments

But no team has only one of the four  ingredients. They have all four in various strengths. A new team member going an ongoing team makes mistakes but quickly finds out how to act, how to behave and how to talk to other team members in a way that fits this teams culture. The team itself, not just the leader, enforces the culture. Effective Feedback

A project manager taking over a team from another leader,  Must first learn the team’s culture that’s as important as discovering how  they are coming along in reaching their assigned goal.  the new project manager would examine the culture and see if it was contributing to the team’s success. If the team was successful it’s very likely the culture is the right one for the targets they are trying to reach. The big mistake would be to try and change the culture to something the new project manager is accustomed to, rather than leaving well enough alone. A  good leader  adapts to an effective culture rather than changing something that is working Team motivation

These project team cultures result from a combination of the leadership style  and techniques that the project manager uses and the team members personal experiences, personality, standards and goals.   It also reflects their prior experience on teams. That prior experience creates expectations for the new team which cover everything from the need to avoid blame to the rewards that the team member expects from delivering good results. When you understand the expectations of your team members it is much easier to adjust the culture to fit the project. Team building

Knowing the kind of project team you will face gives you a big advantage because you know what kind of problems you have to solve as you work with the new team. We’ll look at three distinct project team types and analyze how those three different cultures develop. Then will discuss the techniques you should use to work with each of the three different project team types.

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