Building a cohesive, effective and efficient team is paramount in managing any project. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), among the ten knowledge areas in the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide, human resource management plays a crucial role. Understanding how to assemble and manage an ideal project team is therefore vital for any Project Management Professional (PMP).

Table of Contents

Understanding Different Team Structures

To build an efficient project team, the first step involves understanding the different team structures available. Project-based, matrix-based, and functional-based team structures are the most common. In project-based structures, the project manager has full authority over the team and project resources.

Structure Advantages Disadvantages
Project-Based Full authority, focused team, flexible Duplication of resources, high cost
Matrix-Based Efficient resource utilization, flexible Dual authority, complex communication
Functional-Based Deep technical knowledge, low cost Limited project focus, slow decision making

Ensure to select the structure that best suits the project’s needs, considering factors like resources, timeline, project scope, and the organization’s size.

Roles and Responsibilities

Once you understand the team structure, it’s essential to define the roles and responsibilities clearly. This includes project manager, team member, stakeholder, sponsor, among others. The role identification process can use tools such as the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix, which helps determine who needs to be involved in which capacity for each project activity.

Having clear roles and responsibilities results in defined expectations, streamlined communication, reduced conflicts, and improved task management.

Team Development

With structure and roles in place, building a team requires team development, where team members are trained, mentored, and nurtured with the right skills and knowledge to execute their roles effectively. These can be through team-building activities, training sessions, or workshops. According to Tuckman’s team development model, groups go through the stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

During the storming stage, conflicts may arise due to differences in opinions. A healthy project environment is where these differences are resolved positively, fostering better team synergy. The goal is to move towards the performing stage, where high levels of cooperation and productivity are observed.

Leadership Style

The leadership style chosen by the PMP significantly affects the team’s performance. There are different types of leadership styles, including autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, transformational, transactional, among others. In project management, transformational and democratic leadership tend to yield better results, as they promote participation, motivation, and employee satisfaction.

However, the leadership style also depends on the team’s maturity, project nature, and organizational culture. E.g., in a tech startup, a democratic style might be more appropriate than autocratic.

Motivation Techniques

To get the best from the team, motivation is key. Many motivational theories can guide PMPs, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and McGregor’s X and Y theory. These theories highlight that motivation comes from satisfying an individual’s needs, such as physiologic, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization. PMPs can employ techniques such as appreciation, recognition, rewards, constructive feedback, personal and professional growth opportunities.

Building a team is a critical part of project management. A good grasp of team structures, role identification, team development, appropriate leadership style, and suitable motivation techniques are the backbone of a successful project team. Studying them in detail will increase your chances of acing the PMP exam and becoming an effective project management professional.

Practice Test

The project manager should be the most technically skilled person in the team.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: While technical skills can be beneficial, the project manager’s primary role is to provide leadership, manage resources, and ensure the project remains on track. They don’t necessarily need to be the most technically skilled.

A high-performing team often goes through the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: This is known as Tuckman’s stages of group development theory. Teams typically go through these stages as they develop and strive to reach high performance.

Select multiple: Which of the following are characteristics of an effective team?

  • Open communication
  • Everyone has the same skills
  • Conflict is avoided at all costs
  • Shared team goals

Answer: Open communication, Shared team goals

Explanation: An effective team features open communication and shared goals. Having a team full of similar skill sets can limit versatility and innovation. And while conflict should be managed, it is nearly inevitable in a team setting and can fuel creative solutions when handled appropriately.

The project manager should dictate all actions and decisions in the team.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Although the project manager needs to provide leadership, it’s also crucial to encourage collaboration and shared decision-making within the team. It aids in creating a sense of ownership and engagement among team members.

A project manager only needs to communicate with the team during formal meetings.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Communication should be a continuous process. A project manager must maintain regular, open, and clear communication at all times—not just in formal meetings.

A good project manager encourages team participation and input.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: By promoting collaboration and input, the project manager promotes a sense of ownership among the team members and helps to build a more effective, engaged team.

Belbin’s team roles theory is used to identify suitable roles for individuals in a team.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: Belbin’s team roles identify nine key roles that are often observed in teams. This theory helps project managers match individual skills and potential to specific project roles.

Facilitating team discussions, conflict resolution, and decision making is not a part of project manager’s role.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: A project manager plays a crucial role in facilitating team discussions, resolving conflicts, and helping in decision making processes to ensure team efficiency.

It’s healthy for a team to have some amount of conflict.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: Healthy conflict can lead to creative solutions, innovation, and improved team performance. The key is to manage it effectively and constructively.

A high-performing team doesn’t need regular feedback and reviews.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Regardless of performance level, all teams benefit from regular feedback and reviews. This allows them to continuously improve and stay aligned with project goals.

Select multiple: Which of the following are good traits for a project manager to have when building a team?

  • Strong communication skills
  • Always maintaining a strict, authoritative demeanor
  • Ability to mediate conflict
  • Disregard for the personal lives of team members

Answer: Strong communication skills, Ability to mediate conflict

Explanation: Good project manager traits include strong communication and conflict mediation. It’s also important to respect and acknowledge the work-life balance of team members, and maintain a balance between being authoritative and approachable.

A project manager doesn’t need to consider the cultural diversity of the team while managing it.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Cultural diversity affects team dynamics. Therefore, a good project manager should respect cultural differences and use these differences as strengths to enhance team performance.

The roles and responsibilities of the team members should be clearly defined.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: Clear definition of roles and responsibilities avoids confusion and overlapping of duties. It ensures that everyone knows what’s expected from them, leading to increased accountability and more efficient work.

The project manager should resolve all conflicts that arise in the team.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: While the project manager should facilitate conflict resolution, it’s not always their responsibility to resolve all conflicts. In some cases, team members can and should work out conflicts amongst themselves.

Constructive feedback should be given privately to team members.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: It is best to give constructive feedback privately to avoid embarrassment. This shows respect for the individual, upholds their dignity, and limits the potential for unnecessary additional conflicts.

Interview Questions

What is the first process in Project Team Development according to PMBOK?

The first process in Project Team Development according to PMBOK is ‘Acquire Resources’.

What are the five stages of team development in project management?

The five stages of team development in project management are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

What is the main output of the Conduct Procurements process in Project Management?

The main output of the Conduct Procurements process in Project Management is the ‘Selected Sellers’ who are added to the project team.

What does the PMBOK guide suggest about managing a project team?

According to the PMBOK guide, managing a project team requires a combination of skills, including conflict management, negotiation, and interpersonal skills.

Which conflict resolution technique does PMBOK guide consider as most successful?

The PMBOK guide considers ‘Collaborating or Problem Solving’ as the most successful conflict resolution technique.

What does the process of ‘Develop Team’ in Project Management entail?

The process of ‘Develop Team’ in Project Management enhances the competencies, team interaction and the overall team environment to enhance project performance.

When is it necessary to update the project management plan according to PMBOK?

It is necessary to update the project management plan according to PMBOK whenever there are changes in project scope, schedule, budget or resources.

When building a team, what is the importance of the resource calendar in project management?

The resource calendar in project management is important when building a team because it provides information about when each specific resource is available.

How should a Project Manager handle a high-performing team member who is also a constant source of conflict?

A Project Manager should handle a high-performing team member who is also a constant source of conflict through open communication and conflict resolution techniques outlined in the PMBOK, such as collaborating or compromising.

What’s the difference between resource leveling and resource smoothing in project management?

Resource leveling is a scheduling technique used when resources are over-allocated while resource smoothing is used when resources are within their limits but want to achieve a more balanced schedule.

What is the primary purpose of a team charter?

The primary purpose of a team charter is to define the roles and responsibilities, objectives, and communication protocols of the team.

What is a RACI chart in project management?

A RACI chart in project management is a matrix used for delineating the roles and responsibilities of various team members. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

What is meant by the Tuckman Ladder in team building?

The Tuckman Ladder is another name for Tuckman’s stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

What are the three primary conflict resolution techniques according to the PMBOK guide?

The three primary conflict resolution techniques according to the PMBOK guide are Problem Solving, Compromising, and Forcing.

What is the general principle around the project manager’s role in team development according to PMBOK?

According to PMBOK, the general principle is that the project manager’s role in team development is to build a team that can work effectively together in achieving the project objectives.

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