Project Management

Team Building

last edited by: erin decaprio on Sep 24, 2006 1:46 PM login/register to edit this page

1 Applications
2 Procedures
3 Instructions

A set of techniques used to help project teams learn, grow, and develop into more effective teams. The techniques can be applied throughout the project lifecycle, during team meetings, and/or workshops to facilitate team member affiliation (see Workshops and Facilitation).

No two teams are exactly alike. All teams, whether they are project (temporary) teams or permanent teams, have similar, predictable characteristics. Most teams need time to work effectively together. Team member differences (e.g., knowledge, skill, personalities, and/or ways of operating) may create conflicts. Conflicts can be managed, but more importantly, conflict encourages creativity and team growth. Team leadership is about overcoming conflict, building on the strengths of the team members, and facilitating team affiliation and growth.

The benefits of Team Building at the start of projects are:

  • greater collaboration, where information is shared freely among team members, and team members feel that they have invested themselves in the outcome
  • enhanced communication
  • more effective use of resources, talents, and strengths, while minimizing individual weaknesses and/or gaps
  • improved decision making, while reducing lead times in implementing team actions
  • greater commitment to team results
  • higher quality results
See Facilitation for leadership skills and knowledge required to effect team building and for guidelines for conducting team building ice breakers.


  • To enable more effective and productive teams.
  • To enable team affiliation during working sessions and team meetings.


  1. Perform a self-assessment.
  2. Diagnose team behaviors.
  3. Meet with individual team members.
  4. Analyze and synthesize information.
  5. Bring the team together.
  6. Set objectives and goals.
  7. Define and assign roles.
  8. Monitor as required.
  9. Reward the team and team members for performance.


At the beginning of a project, each of the project teams (e.g., Project Team, Reference Group, and/or Steering Committee) needs to become focused and to learn how to operate together. Typically, during an orientation meeting, team members are briefed on the overall project structure, project objectives, and timelines (see Project Management). It is also necessary to clearly define roles. Each team member must understand what his role is and what he is expected to do to contribute to the overall project. This phase of team building can be referred to as "searching," and it is important that searching time is minimized by clearly defining the roles and responsibilities. In addition, each team member needs to understand what everyone else's contribution and role will be during the project. Getting this right upfront can go a long way to facilitate team building.

It is also important for each team member to feel that he or she has been assigned to a meaningful task and that the task is "doable." Unrealistic deadlines and/or requests work against team building. Project leadership is about striking a balance. (As Pat Riley has been noted to say, leadership is about getting team members to do things that they may not like doing, that they are uncomfortable with, or that they are not experts at for the greater good of the team and to achieve the goal. In so doing, each team member grows, and the team itself becomes a high performing team.)

Provide feedback to the team as a whole and to each individual on the team on a periodic basis throughout a project. Be open, honest, and constructive. This may require team and/or task leaders to perform a self-assessment in order to diagnose their own behaviors, and to determine their leadership style and effectiveness. A number of self-assessment instruments and instruments to diagnose team member behaviors are commercially available.

Help teams assimilate adjusting roles, responsibilities, and/or individual goals and objectives as required. When praising a team, be public and open, but also be proportionate. Encourage questions, follow up on issues (see Issue Tracking), and facilitate inter-team and intra-team communications, eliminating barriers (see Force Field Analysis and GAIL Analysis). Provide incentives rather than disincentives to motivate team member performance. Reward results and empathize with team member difficulties.

During initial project meetings, as well as in any team meeting when needed, conduct a short team affiliation exercise to help the team "gel." Ice breaker exercises, including personal introductions and/or self-disclosure, can help. Use judgment and an understanding of the culture as a guide to selection of team exercises. Dinners, team lunches, etc., can also be used to help grow a team. Experiment and have fun!

last edited by: erin decaprio on Sep 24, 2006 1:46 PM login/register to edit this page


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