When you are running a project team, conventional team building sometimes has limited relevance. Between arranging a team building workshop and running it, the team can change. Within the week after the workshop, the team can change.
In fact, on a project the team can change at any time and is usually changing all through the project.
In that context, you have to choose what you do carefully, not wasting too much money/effort in big events, but rather have lots of small, low-cost events throughout the duration of the project
There is one factor, above all, that influences how well your project works as a team: commitment to shared objectives.
There are 3 different states that project objectives can take:
- They are written down
- Team members understand them
- Everyone is committed to them
1 is easy (and a requirement of all project management methodologies).
2 is a bit harder.
3 is the hardest, but it is the real key to project success.
The most important thing you can do, therefore, as a project manager is win the team's commitment to project goals. This involves things such as:
- Discussing them as a group, allowing them to be shaped (wherever possible) by contributions from team members
- Finding out if team and individual objectives conflict, and resolving any differences so everyone can be fully committed
- Measuring success and making it visible to the team and those outside the team
- Providing personal reward for team success to build motivation (eg: acknowledging and celebrating individual contributions and team achievements)
You can also pursue various ad hoc team building activities, at little or no cost, to help develop the 'social oil'. Just as oil provides a vital but unsung role in an engine, keeping friction down and reducing heat, so too social relationship building can help to moderate the impact of pressure, heat and friction in a team.
Work related activities
- Team meal
- Celebratory drink at significant milestones
- Common interests (squash ladder, backgammon)
- Family days
- Regular team meetings
- Open door policy/walkabout
- Job swapping
- Team newsletter
- Team bulletin board (paper/electronic)
- Lunchtime seminars (learning new skills, senior manager’s strategic presentation, customer talks)