Projects, of course, involve people; those who have initiated the project, the end-users and, more importantly, those who will manage and carry out the work to make the project a reality. And the success of any project depends on these individuals, which is why good teamwork is essential for successful project delivery. So let’s consider how a project manager can improve teamwork.

It is never enough to have a good project plan, a well-defined risk management process and effective communication even though plenty of project managers would be glad of those right now. For a chance of delivering a project successfully, the project team also need to be motivated and work well together. One way of encouraging and motivating a team is to identify their strengths and any opportunities that might be presented by the project. By having frank and open discussions with the whole team you can also highlight the weaknesses in the team and any risks to completing the project successfully. Openly discussing such potential problems can help to minimise the risks. This in turn motivates the team because they pro-actively tackle issues instead of just reacting when a problem occurs.

A project team can range from a few people from a single business area to several groups from different organisations across the world. Whatever type of team it is, it has just a few clear, but vital, objectives: to understand what activities must be completed and to finish them to a defined timetable, at a specified cost and level of quality. During the course of the project they must also efficiently report progress, issues and changes to priorities or requirements to all concerned.

By supporting and encouraging individual team members, with the aim of developing a fully-motivated team, the project manager can ensure that these objectives are achieved. To this end, the project manager would typically gather the whole team together in person, wherever possible, at the outset of the project. The purpose of such a gathering is to build the confidence and enthusiasm of the team by putting in place a detailed project plan that includes the team’s input,  ideas and concerns.

What needs to be done to gather the information needed can be very different from project to project but some basic questions that should always be raised are:

  • Has the project been allocated a sufficient budget?
  • Are the required skills and experience readily available?
  • What benefits will the finished project bring to the organisation?
  • Are end-users enthusiastic about the new project?
  • Has the project manager or team worked on similar projects?
  • Who will decide deadlines and provide time-estimates?
  • Will contingency funding be available if required?

Encouraging honest and realistic discussions about both the positive and negative aspects of a project, and promoting a flow of ideas about what tasks can be done well and what problems might occur will motivate and enthuse a team. Remember to build on your strengths, tackle weaknesses, exploit opportunities and monitor risks, and you will find yourself with a team capable of delivering even complex projects successfully.

Less experienced project managers can learn more about team-building by attending one of the readily available project management courses which provide guidance on the importance of a motivated project team. All of the internationally recognised project management methodologies such as PRINCE2, PMP Certification and APM PQ can be particularly beneficial.