Whether your team is just starting out or well-established, a new project or initiative will present risks for failure or under-performance. This is because new projects have a tendency to disrupt how teams function.
In this regard, new teams may possess some advantages over older ones, because they are still in a fluid state, and can adapt easier. But older teams show more resilience in responding to problems, because the members have been together longer and have developed an effective system.
“Whether your team comprises millennials or veterans,” states Catherine Jourdain, director at Allianz Global Investors, “Everyone needs socialization on the changes, the expected value and on the impact that those changes will have on each of them.”
Whatever the case with your team, we explore some of the essential things to consider when your team is about to embark on a new project or initiative.
Laying the Right Foundation
How a team is introduced to a project plays a huge part in determining how team members perform in it. The first essential step to ensuring team project success is the team leader’s understanding of the project. As team leader, you must gain clarity on the following before you attempting to bring your team in:
- The project vision: Everyone has to be on the same page in terms of the project goal/objectives, scope and methods. At this stage, make sure you get key stakeholders buy-in on the project’s value proposition.
- Project roles and resources: What are the available resources for executing the project – human, financial or technological?
- The timeline for the completion of the project
- The parameters for measuring project success
Organizing For The New Initiative
When you have answered the questions on the details of the project, it is time to organize your team for optimal performance.
For Bart Oelbrandt, P&G European executive, the first, most critical key is “casting the right characters for the right roles and making sure that they all possess a growth mindset“. When your team players are set, the following are the next critical areas in which to pay attention:
- Key Stakeholders: Identify them, understand their goals and perspectives, when and how best to engage them throughout the project to male them as allies and supporters. Catherine Jourdan tells us that “too often, there are big assumptions made at this important step, bridges are burned and the uphill battles begins… Hence this should factor into structuring the project“.
- Roles and Responsibilities: Clarifying roles and defining hierarchies today prevent the lines of responsibility from being blurred tomorrow.
- Expectations: Some projects are highly regimented, while others are flexible. Giving people an idea of what to expect from a project arms them with the right attitude for the work ahead.
- Deliverables: Breaking work down to their smallest individual tasks makes them easier to assign and monitor. Also showing inter-dependencies between tasks helps members gain an overview of the whole project and their part in it
- Access to Resources: This can be technology tools team-members need to be effective, or financial or other resources.
- Communication: Who needs to be informed as the project progresses?
- Set success criteria: Everyone must have the same understanding of how success will be measured for individual tasks and the whole project.
Managing the project
Executing the project puts to the test of how well the previous two steps were carried out. Project execution involves maintaining coherence within the team, identifying and solving problems early and keeping within project scope.
- Produce A Gantt chart: A Gantt chart keeps everyone up to speed on what everyone else is doing – they are easy to produce and use, yet they are highly effective.
- Build The Right Team Habits: Communication is critical to the project’s success – regular and relevant communication is what defines a team and you should be intentional about it.
- Measure Frequently: Constantly evaluate progress against the transparent baselines you have created for the project, give feedback and encourage team members to evaluate one another.
Finally, the most important quality a team needs to succeed with a project is its willingness to change. And this begins with the leader; your readiness to listen to others and respond positively to signals from your environment will equip your team with the attitude to meet the challenges within any new project.
Continue the dialogue and reach out to us for help on how to build a high performing team to maximize the chances of project success. Contact us at email@example.com.
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