Forming a team to tackle a new project can be stressful. Perhaps you already know the team members, along with their strengths and weaknesses, and have concerns about their ability to work together, or maybe you don’t know much about their capabilities for this project and will need to assess their team dynamic while creating a productive strategy. However, a few simple steps can encourage everyone to use their talents and meet project goals on time.
Create a Team Charter
At the first meeting, get everyone involved in setting up the team’s action plan. This will help to decide what each member’s role will be, heading off possible future uncertainties and competition. Team charters also ensure that every member of the team is fully aware of what is expected of them and the potential consequences of falling behind. Give the team members chances to contribute to the team charter. This will give each member a sense of ownership and personal connection to the charter and the overall team goals.
Create Team-Building Exercises
Getting acquainted through team-building activities, sometimes called ice-breakers, is a valuable early task for a project team. There are plenty of fun games that establish camaraderie and help to build rapport. An example is organizing people into pairs or small groups and then asking each person to guess five things in another person’s purse or wallet. Revealing the contents after guessing often leads to humorous revelations, which sets a comfortable tone for the work ahead.
Build Interpersonal Communication
In addition to establishing a charter and delegating tasks based on members’ interests and capabilities, teach members proper communication skills and strategies for arriving at compromises. This may include asking questions, learning how to give proper critiques, or requesting information to better understand claims. Effective interpersonal communication will help the members to move efficiently toward meeting the group’s objectives and goals.
Everyone in the group should feel welcome to share opinions and ideas about the project, even if their thoughts differ from others’ points of view. Polite listening, asking for clarification, and suggesting viable options in a friendly tone of voice allows everyone to feel like an equal member. If someone remains silent most of the time, ask low-key questions to get their opinion, even if you think you already know the answer. Sometimes getting a quiet person to speak up once will encourage more active communication in the future.
All of us like to feel as though our input to a group project is worthwhile and appreciated. A few gestures like those listed here can help everyone to join in and take an active role in the project activities.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan