Key Characteristics of Successful Project Teams
By Brad Egeland
Unfortunately, there really is no magic formula that will ever guarantee project success. However, there are some major ingredients, I believe, that together often characterize a team that will tend to experience more success than others. The list likely includes many more than these that I’m about to discuss below, but these are critical ones, in my opinion…and experience.
Clear goals. A project team with clearly defined goals for the project has a much better chance at achieving project success. These goals can and should be well defined at the outset of the project. All key project stakeholders should gather to layout what the overall goals of the project actually are. I’ve found great success leading these types of efforts by using strategic planning sessions early in the project to drive the team to a final list of key project goals. It has always worked very well for me. Plus it’s a great chance to gather the key stakeholders and to form a bond and good communication flow that can last throughout the entire project.
Well-defined roles. Project team members who know their roles and, therefore, know pretty much what’s expected of them can perform at a higher level of efficiency and competence because there’s little to no uncertainty of the expectations surrounding their tasks. It’s easier for them to take ownership of their “portion of the project” so to speak. Ownership breeds accountability and accountability breeds quality workmanship.
Experienced leadership. Experienced leadership – both at the project managerial level and among the skilled project team members – is a great ingredient to have as part of the project team. You always have those early PM career projects that you have to get under your belt where you won’t have the “experienced leadership” possibility…everyone has to earn their stripes. But once you get there and are using best practices and learning lessons along the way that you build on for future successes, then the likelihood of overall project success is much higher.
Positive atmosphere. Finally, a project team that enjoys what they are doing and can work well together will be more cohesive and the communication will flow more freely and the atmosphere will likely be very positive. That positive atmosphere can be an incredible contributor to project success. Even if every project team member is working remotely – you can still have a very happy and cohesive team and a very positive atmosphere that will affect the outcome of the project. I’ve had many projects where none of the team ever worked face to face with each other, yet the camaraderie was incredible and the atmosphere was very positive.
Summary / call for input
The bottom line is this – the most effective teams are ones that understand the mission, understand their individual roles in providing a successful outcome, and have access to experienced leadership. This is not a recipe that guarantees project success every time out, but teams with these characteristics should work well together, be and feel more empowered and communicate well and succeed more often than not.
Readers – what are your thoughts? What would you add to or change on this list?