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Ten Tips to Help Run a Project Team

Aug 17, 2007
In the past, you probably handled lots of projects on your own. But in today's project culture organizations, you will be asked to work on a project team. And if you prove you work well in a team environment, you will be asked to head a project.

Here are ten project management tips: to help you put together and run a successful project team for your organization.

1. Analyze the kinds of skill members you will need before you begin to assemble the team. Don't make judgments until you have considered all the tasks before the team.

2. Choose people for the project not because they have time available or you will comfortable working with them but because they have the right skills. Get their supervisors' support by either personally asking for their support or having your boss or the project's sponsor request these individual's cooperation.

3. Prepare a skills inventory matrix. The x-axis would identify the individuals you have chosen while the y-axis would list responsibilities. Make sure you've covered all the talent needs the project will have.

4. Keep the team's mission upfront from the first day. Members should be clear about the project's mission when they agree to work on the project. You may adapt the mission as you proceed, but you need to be sure that everyone is in agreement with the mission through the life of the project, and any changes to the mission are acceptable to the project's sponsor.

5. Build a team communication plan. Besides meeting ground rules, which should be set at the first meeting, you want to establish communication channels among team members so there can be an exchange of information in a timely and accurate way. If you plan to use reports - either in print or online - define the content, level of detail, and format for the reports. If you plan to use meetings, agree upfront how often they will be held and where, when they will be scheduled, and who will be responsible for agendas, minutes, and other logistics.

6. Besides a group communication plan, meet with each team member to devise a strategy to ensure that information does not fall through a crack. It's amazing how feathers can be ruffled when they get accidentally left out of the loop on key information.

7. During meetings, ask questions to clarify or gather information on topics. Encourage probing and constructive questions. Members shouldn't be embarrassed to say, I didn't understand. Would you please say that in another way so that I can understand?

8. Learn to read between the lines. The message isn't only what the person may be saying. Listen for intent. Is a team member forewarning you about a problem? Perhaps he or she is expressing frustration about either a project task or the project process.

9. Build and maintain reliability by being consistent in what you ask for and what you do. Follow through on commitments, and be clear about how decisions will be made.

10. Be flexible. As project manager, you have the formal authority that comes with the position. That doesn't mean you should dominate the group. Rather, rely on interpersonal skills to get others to cooperate toward achieving common goals.
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