Project team and structures (1/2)

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During my career all kinds of teams has been working on the projects. The team size depends, and also the team structures. Let us discuss the different team structures and how to going through the team building phases. The team building phases are clearly written out by Donald Egolf in his Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing: Successful Communication in Groups and Teams

What is a project team? A group of people working interdependently to achieve a specific result.

Teams may be defined according to purpose, duration, or membership:
— Functional
— Self-directed
— Cross-functional

What are the characteristics of a functional team?
– One supervisor and direct reports.
– Clear guidelines for authority, relationships, decision making, boundaries, and leadership.
– Effective in traditional organizations in slow-growth industries with predictable markets.

What are the characteristics of a self-directed team?
– Intact group of people working together to deliver a product or service to internal or external customers.
– Responsible for both task achievement and self-management.
– Possesses authority to plan, implement, control, and improve all work processes.
– Effective in slow-growth industries, especially at start-up sites, in organizations with a history of participative management and employee involvement.

What are the characteristics of a cross-functional team?
– Composed of representatives from a wide spectrum of business functions and organizational levels who agree to pool their expertise to maximize results.
– Requires enlisting support throughout the organization for the team’s work.
– Very effective for product development in fast-changing markets, such as computer engineering and telecommunications.

Within a company most common teams are cross-funtional teams. There are several advantages and challenges working with this team structure.

Advantages of Cross-Functional Teams
Speed: Time to market in the product development cycle reduced by replacing serial development with parallel development.
Complexity: Complex business problems solved and innovative products created by capturing the knowledge, ideas, and perspectives of experts from diverse disciplines.
Customer focus: Organization’s ability to identify and truly satisfy the
customer’s real needs enhanced.
Creativity: Organization’s capacity for creative problem solving increased.
Organizational learning: Individual competencies and breadth of knowledge increased by working with team members from other fields of expertise.
Single point of contact: A single point of contact established for information exchange and decision making.

Challenges of Leading Cross-Functional Teams
Leading a diverse group of people who—
— Represent a variety of departments, functional areas, and organizational levels;
— Differ in background, training, and interests;
— May not be co-located or easily accessible;
— May have had little previous experience working in teams;
— May resist working with these team members.

During a project several team building phases are going through before the team is performing at the maximum.

Forming Stage
Team members—
– Feel mild to moderately eager with high, positive expectations about what the team will accomplish;
– Feel anxious and concerned about why they are there, how they will fit in, and what will be expected of them;
– Feel anxious about other team members, such as who they are and what they will be like;
– Are dependent on authority to provide direction.

Storming Stage
Team members—
– Experience some discrepancy between initial hopes and the reality of the situation;
– Become dissatisfied with dependence on authority;
– Experience anger and frustration about goals and tasks and may react negatively toward the formal leader and other team members;
– May feel incompetent and confused;
– May compete for power or attention.

Norming Stage
Team members—
– Become less dissatisfied as ways of working together become clear;
– Resolve discrepancies between expectations and reality regarding goals, tasks, and skills;
– Begin to appreciate each other’s differences and develop feelings of respect, harmony, and trust;
– Feel pleasure and increased self-esteem and confidence regarding task accomplishment.

Performing Stage
Team members—
– Feel excited and eager about participating in team activities;
– Are autonomous (not dependent on a designated leader);
– Work collaboratively and interdependently with whole team and subgroups;
– Feel highly confident about team results;
– Recognize, support, and challenge each other’s competence and accomplishments;
– Communicate openly and freely without fear of rejection or conflict;
– Focus their energy on task accomplishment rather than resistance or dissatisfaction;
– Relate to each other and to the team in terms of complementary task functions as well as interpersonal support.

Adjourning Stage
Team members—
– Become concerned about impending dissolution;
– Feel loss or sadness about ending the project and separating from the team;
– May deny feelings by joking, missing meetings, or expressing dissatisfaction;
– May have strong positive feelings about what the team has accomplished.

After several projects , recognizing in which stage the team find itself will be easier. Try to get in the performing stage as soon as possible. Then the project can fully focus on successfull completion.

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