Topic 10.3: Promoting teamwork
Team-building activities can vary from a five-minute agenda item in a status review meeting to an off-site, professionally facilitated experience designed to improve interpersonal relationships.
These activities are particularly valuable when project team members operate from remote locations without the benefit of face-to-face contact.
Informal communication and activities can also help build trust and establish good working relationships.
Beyond that, what are some of the specific things you can do to promote effective teamwork?
People are motivated if they feel they are valued in the organisation, and this value is demonstrated by the rewards given to them.
Generally, money is viewed by most as a very tangible aspect of any reward system, but other intangible rewards are also effective.
Most project team members are motivated by an opportunity to grow, accomplish and apply their professional skills to meet new challenges.
Public recognition of good performance creates positive reinforcement.
A good strategy for project managers is to give the team all possible recognition during project delivery, rather than waiting until after the project is completed.
It is also important that only desirable behaviour is rewarded.
For example, the willingness to work overtime to meet an aggressive schedule objective should be rewarded or recognised; needing to work overtime as the result of poor planning by the team member should not be rewarded.
Nevertheless, team members should not be punished for poor planning and consistently unrealistic expectations imposed by senior management.
Interestingly, win-lose (zero sum) rewards that only a limited number of project team members can achieve, such as team member of the month, can actually hurt team cohesion.
Rewarding behaviour that everyone can achieve, such as turning in status reports on time, tends to increase support among team members.
Cultural differences should also be considered when determining recognition and rewards; for example, developing appropriate team rewards in a culture that encourages individualism can be difficult.
It is therefore important that the appropriate time and cost allowances are made in the original project plan for all these activities – communication, trust-building, recognition and rewards – to occur.