Team Building: Fixing the Team From Hell

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP

Project team building is a critical success factor. Every project manager wants a project team that is composed of highly motivated, aggressive problem solvers. They should be totally committed to their deliverables, budget and due date and completely support all the other members of the team. Are there teams like this? Yes, but very very few. All too often we wind up with a  team composed  of people like this project team from hell. The suffered from the performance of other leaders and now you have to fix it or bad team performance could kill you project. Leading Teams Main Page

Project sponsors and stakeholders like to talk about the project team during the initiation of new “critically important” projects. It’s easy to identify what you want from your team. But deciding how to build one is a different matter. What team building strategy should you follow? There are certainly team-building classes and facilitators who can help create a more effective culture. But it’s all too easy for those behavioral changes to vanish as soon as the training session is over.

Team building a Dysfunctional Team - Video

So it’s pretty much up to the project manager to build that kind of project team. It’s not done by talking about how everybody’s going to be highly motivated, aggressive problem-solvers, etc.  No, it’s done in three critical instances of a project manager’s work with the project team. This is the heart of team building. These instances are moments of truth that establish the culture of the team, communicate the expectations of the project manager and teach the project team how to work with the project manager. Leadership and Team Assignments

These team building moments of truth occur at particularly important times in the relationship between each team member and the project manager. The first occurs when the project manager assigns a task to a team member. Bad techniques in this assignment process can undermine any trust that existed between the team member and the project manager.  They also alert the team member to start protecting themselves from being blamed for project failure. We’ll discuss the right techniques to use later. Effective Feedback

The second moment of truth occurs when you  work with the team to estimate duration of the task are established. If the project manager handles this one poorly, the team member has alarms going off about how they’re being set up for failure. Team motivation

Finally, how the project manager handles bad news about an assignment is critically important to maintaining a productive attitude on the part of the team member when we  encounter the inevitable problems. Team Types


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