9.3 Develop Project Team – A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition

9.3 Develop Project Team

Develop Project Team is the process of improving competencies, team member interaction, and overall team environment to enhance project performance. The key benefit of this process is that it results in improved teamwork, enhanced people skills and competencies, motivated employees, reduced staff turnover rates, and improved overall project performance. The inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of this process are depicted in Figure 9-9. Figure 9-10 depicts the data flow diagram of the process.

Project managers should acquire skills to identify, build, maintain, motivate, lead, and inspire project teams to achieve high team performance and to meet the project's objectives. Teamwork is a critical factor for project success, and developing effective project teams is one of the primary responsibilities of the project manager. Project managers should create an environment that facilitates teamwork. Project managers should continually motivate their team by providing challenges and opportunities, by providing timely feedback and support as needed, and by recognizing and rewarding good performance. High team performance can be achieved by using open and effective communication, creating team building opportunities, developing trust among team members, managing conflicts in a constructive manner, and encouraging collaborative problem solving and decision making. The project manager should request management support and/or influence the appropriate stakeholders to acquire the resources needed to develop effective project teams.

Project managers operate in a global environment and work on projects characterized by cultural diversity. Team members often have diverse industry experience, know multiple languages, and sometimes operate in the “team language” that may be a different language or norm than their native one. The project management team should capitalize on cultural differences, focus on developing and sustaining the project team throughout the project life cycle, and promote working together interdependently in a climate of mutual trust. Developing the project team improves the people skills, technical competencies, and overall team environment and project performance. It requires clear, timely, effective, and efficient communication between team members throughout the life of the project. Objectives of developing a project team include, but are not limited to:

  • Improving knowledge and skills of team members to increase their ability to complete project deliverables, while lowering costs, reducing schedules, and improving quality;
  • Improving feelings of trust and agreement among team members to raise morale, lower conflict, and increase team work; and
  • Creating a dynamic, cohesive, and collaborative team culture to (1) improve individual and team productivity, team spirit, and cooperation and (2) allow cross training and mentoring between team members to share knowledge and expertise.

9.3.1. Develop Project Team: Inputs

9.3.1.1 Human Resource Management Plan

Described in Section 9.1.3.1. The human resource management plan provides guidance on how project human resources should be defined, staffed, managed, controlled, and eventually released. It identifies training strategies and plans for developing the project team. Items such as rewards, feedback, additional training, and disciplinary actions can be added to the plan as a result of ongoing team performance assessments and other forms of project team management.

9.3.1.2 Project Staff Assignments

Described in Section 9.2.3.1. Team development starts with a list of the project team members. Project staff assignment documents identify the people who are on the team.

9.3.1.3 Resource Calendars

Described in Section 9.2.3.2. Resource calendars identify times when the project team members can participate in team development activities.

9.3.2. Develop Project Team: Tools and Techniques

9.3.2.1 Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills, sometimes known as “soft skills,” are behavioral competencies that include proficiencies such as communication skills, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, negotiation, influence, team building, and group facilitation. These soft skills are valuable assets when developing the project team. For example, the project management team can use emotional intelligence to reduce tension and increase cooperation by identifying, assessing, and controlling the sentiments of project team members, anticipating their actions, acknowledging their concerns, and following up on their issues.

9.3.2.2 Training

Training includes all activities designed to enhance the competencies of the project team members. Training can be formal or informal. Examples of training methods include classroom, online, computer-based, on-the-job training from another project team member, mentoring, and coaching. If project team members lack the necessary management or technical skills, such skills can be developed as part of the project work. Scheduled training takes place as stated in the human resource management plan. Unplanned training takes place as a result of observation, conversation, and project performance appraisals conducted during the controlling process of managing the project team. Training costs could be included in the project budget, or supported by performing organization if the added skills may be useful for future projects. It could be performed by in-house or external trainers.

9.3.2.3 Team-Building Activities

Team-building activities can vary from a 5-minute agenda item in a status review meeting to an off-site, professionally facilitated experience designed to improve interpersonal relationships. The objective of team-building activities is to help individual team members work together effectively. Team-building strategies are particularly valuable when team members operate from remote locations without the benefit of face-to-face contact. Informal communication and activities can help in building trust and establishing good working relationships.

As an ongoing process, team building is crucial to project success. While team building is essential during the initial stages of a project, it is a never-ending process. Changes in a project environment are inevitable, and to manage them effectively, a continued or a renewed team-building effort should be applied. The project manager should continually monitor team functionality and performance to determine if any actions are needed to prevent or correct various team problems.

One of the models used to describe team development is the Tuckman ladder (Tuckman, 1965; Tuckman & Jensen, 1977), which includes five stages of development that teams may go through. Although it's common for these stages to occur in order, it's not uncommon for a team to get stuck in a particular stage or slip to an earlier stage. Projects with team members who worked together in the past may skip a stage.

  • Forming. This phase is where the team meets and learns about the project and their formal roles and responsibilities. Team members tend to be independent and not as open in this phase.
  • Storming. During this phase, the team begins to address the project work, technical decisions, and the project management approach. If team members are not collaborative and open to differing ideas and perspectives, the environment can become counterproductive.
  • Norming. In the norming phase, team members begin to work together and adjust their work habits and behaviors to support the team. The team learns to trust each other.
  • Performing. Teams that reach the performing stage function as a well-organized unit. They are interdependent and work through issues smoothly and effectively.
  • Adjourning. In the adjourning phase, the team completes the work and moves on from the project. This typically occurs when staff is released from the project as deliverables are completed or as part of carrying out the Close Project or Phase process (Section 4.6).

The duration of a particular stage depends upon team dynamics, team size, and team leadership. Project managers should have a good understanding of team dynamics in order to move their team members through all stages in an effective manner.

9.3.2.4 Ground Rules

Ground rules establish clear expectations regarding acceptable behavior by project team members. Early commitment to clear guidelines decreases misunderstandings and increases productivity. Discussing ground rules in areas such as code of conduct, communication, working together, or meeting etiquette allows team members to discover values that are important to one another. All project team members share responsibility for enforcing the rules once they are established.

9.3.2.5 Colocation

Colocation, also referred to as “tight matrix,” involves placing many or all of the most active project team members in the same physical location to enhance their ability to perform as a team. Colocation can be temporary, such as at strategically important times during the project, or for the entire project. Colocation strategies can include a team meeting room (sometimes called “war room”), places to post schedules, and other conveniences that enhance communication and a sense of community. While colocation is considered a good strategy, the use of virtual teams can bring benefits such as the use of more skilled resources, reduced costs, less travel, and relocation expenses and the proximity of team members to suppliers, customers, or other key stakeholders.

9.3.2.6 Recognition and Rewards

Part of the team development process involves recognizing and rewarding desirable behavior. The original plans concerning ways in which to reward people are developed during the Plan Human Resource Management process. It is important to recognize that a particular reward given to any individual will be effective only if it satisfies a need which is valued by that individual. Award decisions are made, formally or informally, during the process of managing the project team through project performance appraisals (Section 9.4.2.2). Cultural differences should be considered when determining recognition and rewards.

People are motivated if they feel they are valued in the organization and this value is demonstrated by the rewards given to them. Generally, money is viewed as a tangible aspect of any reward system, but intangible rewards could be equally or even more effective. Most project team members are motivated by an opportunity to grow, accomplish, and apply their professional skills to meet new challenges. A good strategy for project managers is to give the team recognition throughout the life cycle of the project rather than waiting until the project is completed.

9.3.2.7 Personnel Assessment Tools

Personnel assessment tools give the project manager and the project team insight into areas of strength and weakness. These tools help project managers assess the team preferences, aspirations, how they process and organize information, how they tend to make decisions, and how they prefer to interact with people.

Various tools are available such as attitudinal surveys, specific assessments, structured interviews, ability tests, and focus groups. These tools can provide improved understanding, trust, commitment, and communications among team members and facilitate more productive teams throughout the project.

9.3.3. Develop Project Team: Outputs

9.3.3.1 Team Performance Assessments

As project team development efforts such as training, team building, and colocation are implemented, the project management team makes formal or informal assessments of the project team's effectiveness. Effective team development strategies and activities are expected to increase the team's performance, which increases the likelihood of meeting project objectives. Team performance assessment criteria should be determined by all appropriate parties and incorporated in the Develop Project Team inputs.

The performance of a successful team is measured in terms of technical success according to agreed-upon project objectives (including quality levels), performance on project schedule (finished on time), and performance on budget (finished within financial constraints). High-performance teams are characterized by these task-oriented and results-oriented outcomes.

The evaluation of a team's effectiveness may include indicators such as:

  • Improvements in skills that allow individuals to perform assignments more effectively,
  • Improvements in competencies that help the team perform better as a team,
  • Reduced staff turnover rate, and
  • Increased team cohesiveness where team members share information and experiences openly and help each other to improve the overall project performance.

As a result of conducting an evaluation of the team's overall performance, the project management team can identify the specific training, coaching, mentoring, assistance, or changes required to improve the team's performance. This should also include identification of the appropriate or required resources necessary to achieve and implement the improvements identified in the assessment. These resources and recommendations for team improvement should be well documented and forwarded to the relevant parties.

9.3.3.2 Enterprise Environmental Factors Updates

The enterprise environmental factors that may be updated as a result of the Develop Project Team process include, but are not limited to, personnel administration, employee training records, and skill assessments.