Lecture 6. The team
Well-coordinated team is an important success factor for any project. At the same time a team is one of the most complex and difficult components for any project manager.

When forming your team pay attention not only to the competences of a person, his/her professional experience and skills, but also character, values and aspirations. For the team to work well together and be most efficient, it should be formed of the people with similar principles and those who share the same corporative culture.

There are different approaches to organising your team: from a traditional one where every person has his/her own area of responsibilities to turquoise and agile approach where people work first and foremost as a team and not individual specialists, and were forehead clearly defined responsibilities and roles are not always that important.

Here is an example:

EdEra – is a Ukrainian studio of online education and an interactive platform for online learning. EdEra is an example of the so-called turquoise organisation where they have coaching and self-management instead of managers, and goals and values instead of KPIs. They follow agile-approach in their work.

  1. Flexibility. The responsibilities are based on your own initiative and your desire to learn something new. That means that everybody has their roles but they could be combined. EdEra has its managers, however they are seen rather bot like the ones standing higher on the hierarchy ladder, but rather like a connecting bridge.

  2. Discussions. Projects are discussed either by the whole team or in a narrower circle depending on what the given project needs. There are separate meetings for managers where the team operations and project workload are on the agenda.

  3. Individuality. Every new team member writes a small text about themselves and about their style of work, then he/she presents it. This way helps to build communication.

  4. Team interviews. When there is an interview with new team members, those who are going to work with them later in the project are invited to participate. It is important for the decision about accepting the candidate to be made not by the boss, but by the team.

  5. Self-effectiveness. Every team member reports in a daily mail about the work done; then weekly evaluates his/her work and learning progress and at the end of each month analyses his/her work input. The salary depends on this process.

  6. Team building. Filming, discussion of new projects, solving together current problems – all these are the elements of team building approach. EdEra holds regular team meetings, organises lectures, presentations and different events. 

Koktebel Jazz Festival – is an annual jazz music festival which in its operations follows the so call 'hybrid approach'.

  1. Preps. When preparing for the next festival the team predominantly follows the agile approach: everybody is involved into the event and work in the area they are competent in. For example, a curator of one of four stages should have skills of a person who good in modern music and should know the specifics of working with music projects (technical and hospitality riders, musicians' timing etc.).

  2. Discussions. Project design approval is done with each of the sub-projects initiators, and only afterwards, it is discussed in a team if the project is deemed perspective in terms of its possible implementation.

  3. Festival. During the festival it is more the hierarchy system that works with clear-cut divided certain tasks for each of the team members, including all the volunteers, making it the reign of applied project management.

  4. Volunteers. Most of the work is done by volunteers. The organisation has 13-years of proven experience of cooperation with volunteers. Koktebel Jazz Festival mixing its new volunteers (up to 60%) with those who already took part in the project before: this helps to draw in the newcomers into the project from the very beginning.

Whatever principle you follow to build up your team and arrange its working operations, it is more than likely to go through these several classical stages:

  • Forming;

  • Storming;

  • Norming;

  • Performing.

The first stage is forming the team. People who quite often do not know each other from earlier before start to work together. Each of them has his/her own experience, values, principles, approaches, character and attitudes.

The second stage starts to storm the team, hence the storming stage. People start to find disagreements between their personal qualities I mentioned before. Their experiences and approaches differ, and what is usual for one might go outside the normal zone of comfort for others.  That is how conflicts start.

With time team members learn to interact with each other, accept each others' points of view and find common language. In this way they gradually come to the stage of normalisation or norming and finally start to work well together.

Only after that the team starts performing coming to the performing stage, the stage of coordination and high-efficiency performance. Here the team acts and operates as one and you can see the results.

By the way, the performance rates of the team differ at different stages. Of course, it will drop at the storming stage and will start to go up again at the norming stage.

For the team leader it is important to know that all these stages are natural and almost everybody goes through them.

The better you select the people (according to their similarities in values, for example), the less painful and visible will be the storming stage. 

What is interesting, it is to go through the storming stage quicker that managers go for team-building and informal joint events for the team. The game and socializing processes at a neutral location helps people to learn negotiate and find agreement, start understanding each other, open up conflicts in non-working environment and solve them over there without damaging other work-related matters.

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