Culture of Success & Team Dynamics: Building the Team Before Building the Team (Post #6)

The project team; those individuals you need to work together to accomplish a goal.  You’ll be working with them a lot; leading, handling issues, giving direction, managing conflict, and the list goes on.  But before all that, you need to know not only WHO will be on the team, but just as importantly (if not more), what ROLES are required.

Identify the Roles First, Not the People.  Have you ever started a project and heard “You need Johnny for this” or “Make sure Cindy is on your team because she’s great!”?  Chances are you have.  Instead of identifying people, identify the roles you’ll need first.

This is a lesson I learned running a large IT project years ago.  Once the project was approved, we pulled the people we thought were needed and got to work.  The issues we found right away; people have “day jobs” plus other projects, some of the roles we thought we needed we actually didn’t, and we quickly found out we didn’t have some key skill sets required and had to look for contractors.  Needless to say, it was a rough start.

Instead, create a list of roles you’ll need, the tools (whether it’s licenses, applications, equipment, etc), when they will be needed and how long they will be engaged on the project.  By identifying roles, you see what you need and whether or not you have them.  Sure, you probably have some people in mind, but at least all the roles and tools are ID’d.

Fill in the Gaps.  Once you have roles and tools identified, it’s now time to fill in the gaps.  This is often difficult because with gaps come costs.  Consultants or staff augmentation may be contracted, software purchased, or licenses subscribed to.  There is also the option to adjust scope to reduce, or provide current staff additional training.  Ultimately, however, you’ll need to fill in these gaps.

Assign Your Team.  You’ve identified the roles, filled in the gaps, and now it’s time to build the team.  Most often, you get people assigned from their managers.  The problem is, managers don’t always assign the right people to the project.  Sure, they may have the technical knowledge to complete tasks, but they may also be on other projects, constantly in operational fire-fighting mode, or may be the person that’s difficult to work with and the manager just wants them out of their hair for awhile.  If you have any say, try to get team members who are not only competent in their area, but also able to work well with others.

Determine Your Process.  Lastly, determine your project management process.  Some companies have established processes.  Others leave it up to the project manager.  So, determine if waterfall, agile, or “Agi-Fall” works for your project.  In the next phase of team development, ask the team for their input into the process to create a greater sense of ownership.

Next up, the team kick-off and your “Rules” as the PM.

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