Teams - Creation and optimisation

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This article is about forming a team and what steps to take to become a high performing team. First, it is described what is a team, then the difference between groups and teams and lastly the difference between a team and a high performing team. Second, it is described how to create a team. How a project manager and the team needs to learn about one another personality type, roles within the team and workflow. Then its describe what management tool the team can use for the work process.

Introduction - What is a team?

What is a team? A good team compliments one and others competence and skills, and they have a positive environment, they are individuals working towards a common goal. How does a team differ from a group and why is a team better? A group consist of independent individuals, and they are driven by their own goals. Whereas in a team the individuals that can work independently. They work together towards a common goal, and they care about the results as a unit and not as individuals. How do we create successful teams? A team concerts of individuals who can work together and takes on different roles within the team. It's important that the team notes each other’s personality traits and work habits and they have a clear distinction between their roles in the team. Communication between members is essential as well as discussions within the team. When designing a team, it's important to have in mind what skills and competence are needed, as well as how the personalities and the individuals work habits will mesh within the team. Once a team has been created you can work towards a high performing team this is done within the team wants they had a clear vision of the goal and how to work towards the common goal.

Group vs teams

What is the difference between a group and a team? A group is composed of independent individuals who coordinate their individual efforts. Whereas a team is composed of individuals who work together toward a shared goal/purpose. The individuals in the group have their own personal priorities and goals for a project, whereas a team have common priorities and goal. When looking at the characteristics of teams and groups we see some differences. A team share or rotate leadership roles whereas a group has one designated strong leader. Teams possess accountability both as a team but also individually, in a group the members feel accountable for their own work. This can be because of the fact that when performance goals are set, they determined and defined by the team. In groups, the performance goals are usually set by others. Teams commonly have a very specified vision or purpose, wherein groups the purpose often are that of the organization. Teams prosper in open-ended discussion, active problem-solving, and mutual feedback. Groups prosper with meetings and delegation

Group vs team
Difference between a group and a team.

Creating the team

When creating a team it is essential to consider the team members personalities, roles, work rhythm and introduce and clarify the goal. For the team to be effective, they must trust each other, be committed to and take accountability for the project. Tuckman's model can be used to describe the different faces a team undergoes during the project. There are five steps in Tuckman's model: Forming Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning.
Basic V-Model view
Tuckman's Model

For the team's development and in all the stage of Tuckman's model it is essential that the project manager takes into account:

  • Composition: Team competencies, personalities, roles, diversity etc.
  • Work design: Skill variety, task identity and task significance.
  • Context: Adequate resources, Leadership.
  • Process: development process, common purpose, specific goals, conflict.

The composition of the team and a clear goal is vital to the team creations success. This is also known as the forming phase in Tuckman's model. The project manager must have an insight and understanding of the team's different personalities. Some of the tools used for identifying personalities can be The big five (OCEAN) [1] [2], The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [3] [4]or Belbin's Team Roles[5] [6]. Knowing the personality types and preference for the different members preference for workflow can optimise team communicate, tasks completion and role assignments. The project manager must also ensure the goal of the project is clear for the team so no misunderstandings occur. By ensuring the team in on the same page and how the team will handle challenges they can minimise the occurrence of non-constructive conflicts within the team. The storming phase in Tuckmansmodel.

Ex. David and Elsa are part of a team and are assigned a task together and need to divide the work. David wakes up at 5 am every morning and starts working at 6 am and go home at 2 pm. He prefers face to face communication and phone calls when communicating with others. David prefers to get an overview of the project before going into details. Elsa wakes up at 9 am and start working at 10 am and goes home at 6 pm. She prefers written down task/reports and emails when communicating with others. Elsa prefers to get all details immediately for each section of the project. David and Elsa discuss how the other prefers to work and figure how best to schedule and divide task, so they are both happy. They schedule all meetings between 11 am and 1 pm. The meetings are face to face and they write a summary for meetings. they mainly use email as communication but they can call each other to confirm things. David takes care of the morning tasks and Elsa takes care of the afternoon tasks. David will be responsible for tasks done in the morning and makes the write overview reports and Elsa will be responsible for tasks done late in the day and filly out details in the reports.

The process needs to be clear for the team, to ensure the project is being done on time. The project manager have different tool/methodologies they can implement for the team to use for the project. Some of the most commonly used are:

  • Agile is a flexible approach to building a project. In agile project management, the project is broken down into several stages or sprints. Agile does not work on the principle of delivering the final product at the end of the project, it works on delivering sections of a project or mini-projects. The process of project management in agile is based on that there won't be any central control of project manager, as it was there in the traditional way of working.[7]
  • Scrum Works by iterations or also known as sprints. They're short periods of time or time boxes by the end of which some piece of working software is presented. It is not the final version of the product, but it is something that can be demonstrated to stakeholders. The whole project then is a sequence of such iterations. There are three main roles in Scrum: the product owner, the development team and the scrum master. The product owner is representative of the customer. They articulate what the customer wants to get from the product or feature and defines the guidelines for the team. The development team backlogs the product items get into the sprint, and the work of the development team begins. The work is broken down into tasks and each team member takes on some tasks based on their abilities. The scrum master is responsible for ensuring effective communication between the team members, and between the team and the product owner or stakeholders. So that the team can focus on getting their job done they conduct the daily scrum meetings as well.
  • Waterfall is a style of project management that has a very linear process and is heavily phased based. This means one phase must finish before you can move on to the next phase. With waterfall project management, the only way to go back to a previous phase is if you go back to the start of the beginning of phase one. Due to it being a progressive style, if a mistake happens you will have to go all the way back. Therefore each phase is going to be extremely dependent upon the previous phase.
  • V-model Comes from the waterfall model but is a bit different. The V-model process has three main phases: The development phase, the implementation phase and the test phase. [8]

Once the prosses tools have been chosen and the project tasks implemented the team can start working not the project. This phase is the norming phase in Tuckman's model.

High performing teams

Basic V-Model view
The effectiveness over different groups/teams

The difference between a team and a high performing team is effectiveness/performance. A high performing team is defined by: A high-performance team can be defined as: a group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned with and committed to a common purpose, who consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation, produce superior results and extinguish radical or extreme opinions that could be damaging. The high-performance team is regarded as tight-knit, focused on their goal and have supportive processes that will enable any team member to surmount any barriers in achieving the team's goals [9]

To build or become a high performing team, firstly the principles should be clearly defined.

  • Identify: what are the things that unite the team.
  • Shared vision: work together on how to achieve.
  • Team potency: divide roles and responsibilities etc.
  • Secure psychological safety: Ensuring the team members mind set are optimal.
  • Behavior within the team: everyone should have to understand the behaviour of other team members and act accordingly.

Some of the characteristics of a high performance team are:

  • The team member like/loves to be part of the team and feels what we do is important and meaningful.
  • The team are results/goal-oriented and considers what is best for the team as a whole.
  • The team consistently deliver at least what is expected if not more.
  • The team thrive in projects that require a high level of collaboration and/or cross-functional.
  • The team are always looking for ways to innovate, improve their performance as a team, and also learn and develop individual skills.


  1. OCEAN [1]
  2. Alan E. Kazdin PhD, Encyclopedia of psychology, 2000
  3. Myers, Isabel Briggs with Peter B. Myers (1995) [1980]. Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.
  4. The Myers and Briggs foundation[2]
  5. elbin's team roles [3]
  6. Belbin's Team Roles[4]
  7. Kanbanize [5]
  8. V-model [6]
  9. Strategies to achieve high performance in hybrid project teams [7]
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