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Creating engaged project teams

Working across teams and divisions means that you may not have a ready-made team for your project, and you need to establish a cross-functional team.  According to research, 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional (Tabrizi, 2015).

The main reasons for this are:

  • The lack of a clear goal or a path to achieve it.
  • Team members have competing priorities as this project team is not their main job. It creates extra work which can cause stress.
  • Having people from different sections and levels in the team can create a difficult power dynamic.
  • There may not be a direct line of authority, which creates delays in getting approval to act.

To create a successful cross-functional team:

  • Establish clear goals, milestones and deliverables.
  • Be clear about budgets and timelines.
  • Identify the skills and representation you need in the team to achieve the goals within the constraints.
  • Be mindful of creating a diversity of thought and experience to get better outcomes.
  • Set clear ground rules within the team, as well as their duties and accountabilities.
  • Be clear about the purpose of meetings and communications.

The project manager should ensure that the team is productive and people can interact positively.

The following video explores creating psychological safety in teams.

In addition to the psychological safety, teams work better when the following elements are addressed:

The Collaboration Wheel identifies critical elements for an engaged team.

The Collaboration Wheel and the Deep-Dive Canvas can help you to establish and monitor team health. To assess the team and individuals within it, download and complete the Deep Dive Collaboration Canvas here.