Sunday, June 15, 2008

Team, what team?

This week I was asked the question whether a team must have a common vision. My answer was clear. A team without a shared objective was merely a collection of individuals. For a team to really be considered a team it must have the following:

1. A common objective (clear in the mind of everyone)
2. A structure from which every team player knows their role and responsibilities
3. A method of measuring success, on both an individual and group level
4. A set of commonly accepted rules

If your team does not have this, then do not be surprised if individuals are not performing as team players.

In my book Making a Difference (Maak het Verschil) I suggest the use of a job description template for everyone in the team. (You can download it for free from the book's website). But this week while setting up a new project I noticed a gaping hole in it (the project's objective)and made the necessary changes. From now on all my function descriptions will include the following sections:

1. The Name of the Project (and/or department)
2. The Function Title
3. The objective of the project (short two line description)
4. The Function description (short three line summary)
5. The place of the function holder in the team (who they report to)
6. The authorities of the function holder (direct & indirect reports + other authorities)
7. The Responsibilities of the Function Holder
8. The measure by which they are to be assessed (Key Performance Indicators)
9. The required qualifications and experience
10. The required Personal characteristics
11. The signatures of the Functional holder, Project Manager and Program director

You might find this ‘over the top’ but I assure you that completing function descriptions is relatively quick and it forces you to think through what is required and why. By linking them together the PM can ensure that they have all the right resources for the project and that they eliminate function overlap and confusion in general. (So much time is wasted discussing who will do what and why and when and how). Making a clear structure allows the team members to do the creative work by focusing on the things that matter.

By ensuring you select the right people for each of the functions, you can ensure the success of your project, even before it begins. So, as long as you keep your teams focused and motivated - and also ensure that everyone understands the dependency that they have on each other - then you can be confident that you will have a real ‘Team’.

However you must regularly check to see if everyone still has the true Project Objective in their hearts and minds (that which is written in the job descriptions) and not some other mutation that they find more convenient!

Creating, building and managing a really focused and driven team is one of the most exhilarating privileges that a manager can ever experience in their professional career.

1 comment:

Peter van Veen said...

The JD suggestion is very useful - I am used to this in interim roles but have been on plenty of projects where there is no JD for any member of the project team, only a project brief.