How to build Top Performing Teams? CEO’s take and PM’s take


As usual started my day reading McKinsey Quarterly article on “Three steps to building a better top team“. Even though the article focusses on Executive teams, some of the principles apply for regular project teams, as well. One thing that comes out of this article is that discipline is better enforced from top-down. The right tone, direction, energy levels and attitudes of Executives will help them engage the Business, Technology Leads, in turn trickling down to Project Managers and teams – in building better teams. Such company culture leads to high-performing organization and happy employees.

While managing projects, we Project Managers, we constantly strive to better the teams using various team building activities. I think if we try to put “People First” and build the camaraderie, then we would naturally get better project results.

The way to start building teams is by setting some Team ground rules, both from Process perspectives and Attitude perspective. A few of them, which has worked for our team, is listed below:

Process-wise: (more focussed towards meetings and conversation within/across project teams)

  1. Use our time wisely, starting on time, returning from breaks and ending meetings promptly
  2. Publish agenda and outcomes
  3. Review and agree on agenda at start of meeting and then stick to it
  4. Attend all meetings – Be on time
  5. Absenteeism permitted if scheduled in advance with the Manager
  6. Keep to the current topic (Avoid side bar discussions while others are talking)
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate – before, during and after the meeting – to make sure that action items are properly documented, resolved, and assigned to a responsible individual and given a due date
  8. Ask a question whenever you have one, feel free to share an illustration, if only to test your understanding of the points being discussed
  9. Request an example if a point is not clear
  10. How can we do them differently next time?
  11. Provide key point notes/meeting minutes to participants
  12. Job titles and rank are left at the door

Attitudes-wise:

  1. Give feedback directly and openly; in a timely fashion, and provide information that is specific and focuses on the task and process
  2. Everyone is expected to help facilitate, critique, and evaluate the meeting
  3. Everyone is expected to participate and to respect and support the right to be heard
  4. Accept personal responsibility for team outcomes
  5. Share your knowledge, experience, time, and talents
  6. Everyone is responsible for the success of the meeting

The team ground rules are just a start. Team building also involves giving appropriate credit, PM taking the team out for lunch at major milestones, celebrating positive customer feedback, etc. – anything which boosts morale.

What tactics have you applied for team building? Pen your thoughts.

For more on Team Building, click here

Update: Graphic of brilliant Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model

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