Experience and research indicate that the following conditions will aid team development and also help start the process of building a high-performance project team:
- There are 10 or fewer members per team.
- Members volunteer to serve on the project team.
- Members serve on the project from beginning to end.
- Members are assigned to the project full time.
- Members are part of an organization culture that fosters cooperation and trust.
- Members report solely to the project manager.
- All relevant functional areas are represented on the team.
- The project involves a compelling objective.
- Members are located within conversational distance of each other.
Well this might be an ideal situation and in reality you as a project manager, might never end up with a project that meets all these team development conditions.
For example many projects’ requirements dictate the active involvement of more than 10 members and may consist of a complex set of interlocking teams comprising more than 100 professionals.
Factors Affecting Team Development
In many organizations, functional managers or central manpower offices assign project members with little input from the project manager. To optimize resource utilization, team member involvement may be part time, and/or participants may move in and out of the project team on an as-needed basis. In the case of ad hoc task forces, no member of the team works full time on the project.
In many corporations an NIH (not invented here) culture exists that discourages collaboration across functional boundaries.
Team members often report to different managers, and, in some cases, the project manager will have no direct input over performance appraisals and advancement opportunities of team members. Key functional areas may not be represented during the entire duration of the project but may only be involved in a sequential manner.
Not all projects have a compelling objective.
It can be hard to get members excited about mundane projects such as a simple product extension or a conventional apartment complex.
Finally, team members are often scattered across different corporate offices and buildings or, in the case of a virtual project, across the entire globe, which can seriously affect team development. It is important for project managers and team members to recognize the situational constraints they are operating under and do the best they can.
It would be naive to believe that every project team has the same potential to develop into a high-performance team. Under less-than-ideal conditions, it may be a struggle just to meet project objectives.
Ingenuity, discipline, and sensitivity to team dynamics are essential to maximizing team development as well as the performance of a project team.