Tips to Fast-Track

Tips to Fast-track Team Building - Part 1

In an ideal world team members would spend enough time building rapport before diving into a project. But project practitioners often have to get a team up and running while its members are still getting to know each other. To succeed, they should skip the icebreakers and try some of the following tips instead.

In this issue of ProjectPro’s eNews we deal with the first three tips, and next month the remaining three.

FIND A PROJECT CHEERLEADER

Meeting with each team member individually to explain the importance of the project is a noble goal, but it can also be an incredible time drain. Instead, project managers should work to identify the most outspoken member of the team and get that person enthused about the project.

Finding an informal leader in the group and empowering him or her as a change agent can be very effective. Instead of laboring to find the interests of each team member, the project manager targets the most vocal person with a one-on-one meeting. He solicited the team member's views on the company's needs and problems and, in a follow-up meeting, presents a list of how the project's success would solve each problem. To turn the team member into a project cheerleader, the project manager should put him in charge of creating and executing the internal communications plan for the project. Once other members learned he was won over, they will be ready to contribute.

CREATE A PROJECT WAR ROOM

Getting the team together physically may be the fastest way to spur collaboration and communication. It's the oldest-and best-trick in the book. Whether managing a team in construction, IT, or and gas, setting aside a designated space, such as an empty conference room, has a dramatic effect on team alignment. They can see how hard each one of them works or not, thereby gauging themselves through unspoken peer pressure, and because of the time spent together, they bond quicker.

The project manager posts critical project information–schedules,  logs of problems, risk registers and other data--on the walls, helping to maintain a sense of urgency and showing team members how others depend on their tasks being completed.

A dedicated space may be impossible for virtual teams, but it's very important to have at one face-to-face meeting. Kick-starting a project with an in-person team meeting to establish the project's mission, priorities and timeline is recommended. Because so much communication comes from nonverbal cues, connecting in person helps to build trust and understanding.

GET EVERYONE ON THEIR FEET

Standing during meetings keeps team members focused and engaged, which is an easy recipe for team -building. A favorite technique to encourage collaboration is the daily stand–up. If you're seated and too comfortable, you stop really listening. The project manager asks all team members to stand and deliver updates of work and any obstacles they're facing. Alert team members are more likely to offer each other solutions-and strengthen team cohesion.

Don't limit daily stand-ups to today's tasks. Now's the time to share project setbacks as well. Get bad news out early and work with a policy of telling too much, rather than too little. It's the role of the project manager to create transparency, so team members feel informed–and invested–on all fronts of the project.

Read Part 2

SOURCE: PMI PM NETWORK

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