How to Encourage Harmony on Your Project Team
What makes a good team? Are teams necessary? Does the Team Leader - the Project Manager -
make or break the successful team? These are crucial questions in today’s business climate.
Particularly with the remote workforce that most companies are using nowadays. But they are
still hard questions for companies to answer for Project Managers to wrestle with.
Let’s start with some interesting research. Google did a decades-long study of what makes a
good team. If you want all the details, the link to the full article is below. But here’s the
gist of the findings. They looked at other studies and found that a Harvard Business Review
study found that, “ ‘time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has
ballooned by 50 percent or more’ over the last two decades and that, at many companies, more
than three-quarters of an employee’s day is spent communicating with colleagues.”
Engineers are encouraged to work together because they innovate faster, see mistakes more
quickly and find better solutions to problems. In a 2015 study, executive said that profitability
increases when workers are persuaded to collaborate more.
The Google study concluded that what distinguished “good” teams from dysfunctional teams was how
teammates treated one another. And when they applied this concept to real observation, it held up.
The good teams spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as
“equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.” Second, the good teams all had high
“average social sensitivity” - a fancy way of saying they were skilled at inuiting how other felt
based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues.
So let’s get to a handy dandy list or two of what makes a good team.
Be aware of employees’ unspoken feelings - set an example by being open
Act as a harmonizing influence - resolve minor disputes quickly
Be clear when communicating - clarify directions
Encourage trust and cooperation among employees on your team - look at each team member
Encourage team members to share information - each team member’s role is important
Delegate problem-solving tasks to the team - let the team be creative in their problem-solving
Establish team values and goals; evaluate team performance - make sure the team has buy-in to
Make sure that you have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish - know that the whole team
is aware of what their responsibilities are
Use consensus - everyone’s commitment through consensus provides better decisions
Set ground rules for the team - general guidelines for the team ensures efficiency
Establish a method for arriving at consensus - pro’s and con’s, research committees
Encourage listening and brainstorming - the more debate, the more creativity and better results
Establish the parameters of consensus-building sessions - Time limits and watch out for false
Well there we go! No problem, right? Because that’s a big list and how do managers make all that
happen so teams function successfully all the time? Managers can work on helping their teams be
their best by fostering these qualities:
Excellent communication - Open communication, sharing thoughts and opinions and ideas and
taking into consideration each team members ideas as well.
Staying goal and results focused - Keeping the team focused on common outcomes and setting
a clear plan on how to achieve them.
Everyone contributes their fair share - This creates a sense of belonging and commitment to
the work and they fully understand what their responsibilities are.
They offer each other support - Lending a helping hand to any member of the team whenever
they need it. Making sure everyone has the resources they need.
Diversity within the team - The more the variety of personalities, experiences, knowledge
and skills, the better the team will be.
Good leadership - Being a leader the team trusts and respects with be the glue that holds
the team together.
Excellent organization - Regular meetings, realistic deadlines, making sure everyone on
the team is clear on what they are accountable for.
FUN! - Burnout can be the death of a team. Teams who work well together enjoy each other’s
company and have a social component.
These tips should give you a pretty good start on how to manage a successful team. If you
haven’t already noticed, most of these are “soft skills”, ones involving communication, listening,
negotiation and being attuned to the needs of your team. “Hard skills” like being able to manage
the computer apps that handle all the scheduling and email and other project-related details are
not as essential to team management in the bigger picture of creating a successful team environment.
Keep that in mind as you decide how to hone your skills and develop your abilities.