By their very nature, project management teams are unique, and face their own opportunities and challenges. This article examines six common team challenges facing project management teams, and includes questions project managers may want to consider with respect to developing their own project teams.
Challenge #1: The Team’s finite timeline
Project Management exist for a finite period of time, with a fixed beginning and end period. The project may be days, weeks, months or sometimes years. Teams outside of the project world do not necessarily experience the same finite nature.
What challenges does your team’s finite timeline pose?
What do you notice about your team process?
What specific needs does you team have, collectively, and individually as you move from kick-off to implementation and finish?
Challenge #2: Different roles and responsibilities of different team members
Project teams often involve a fluid mix of different team members coming in and out of the project. This may sometimes lead to lack of clarity about the different roles and responsibilities of the different team members.
How much time have you spent clarifying the different roles and responsibilities of the different team members in your project?
Where is the overlap?
What are the gaps?
What steps do you need to undertake to address these?
Challenge #3: Different team members belong to a series of different project teams
It is quite common for staff members to belong to multiple project teams at one time, reporting to several supervisors or managers at a time. Matrix management brings with it opportunities and challenges for team leaders and team members alike.
How strong is the association/membership to your team?
What steps can you take to boost team members association to your team?
What relationships do you want to strengthen across the matrix?
Challenge #4: Possible virtual nature of the Project Team:
A very common challenge within project teams is their virtual nature, where members of the team are either M-Workers, or actually located in different venues. Virtual teams can pose a wide range of challenges as they may operate across time zones, distance and cultures.
If we have a virtual component to our team, who is on it?
What obstacles exist due to our nature of the virtual team?
What steps can we take to ensure that those needed are involved in our team process and communication?
Challenge #5: Unclear vision for the team
Unfortunately, it can be common for the vision of a project to held tightly by a few members of a project management team, and not widely shared by all. Developing a common vision is a necessary ingredient for creating a high performing team.
Who has contributed to the overall vision of the project?
Who shares this vision? Is it common amongst all team members?
What steps can you take so that all team members share the vision?
Spend time with the team creating a common vision of the end result
Challenge #6: Unclear on the strengths of the team
Given the often transient nature of project teams, it is quite common for the time together to be spent on action (which can often be unfocused) rather than preparation and planning. Remember, every 10 minutes of planning can save 60 minutes of unfocused effort.
What strengths does each team member bring to your team?
What are the strengths of your team system as a whole?
What gaps or blind-spots exist?
What steps can you take the address these?
Look for an assessment to measure the strengths of your team system, or the strengths of the individual team members. Have facilitated discussion around where the commonalities lay amongst the team, as well as the differences. Notice the project team strengths, as well as the blind-spots that exist.
As you move into a new project, take stock of these six challenges. Reflect on and discuss with your team the related questions and solutions to each challenge, creating a solid foundation for your success.