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Project Management - Managing Project Teams

Updated on November 2, 2011
Tom Peters, Management Consultant and writer
Tom Peters, Management Consultant and writer

The difference in productivity between an average team and a turned-on, high performing team is not 10%, 20% or 30% but 100%, 200%, even 500%! –Tom Peters.

In project implementation, a variety of skills are required. So first and foremost job of any project manager is to select a team of administrative and technical personnel.


What is a team?

A small number of employees with complementary skills who work together to reach a common goal and are jointly accountable for results. A team uses all members for a collective action which is far more than could be achieved otherwise. This is known synergy which is generated from working together rather than individually. Thus 1+1+1 is not 3 but maybe 10 as the team will produce much better result than the combined results of individuals (as if each member was working on the job assigned to him in isolation and had no contact with others). This is because they jointly ponder over a problem and suggest various solutions, the best of which is adopted. This is also known as brain-storming.

Bruce Tuckman, a professor of education at Ohio State University.
Bruce Tuckman, a professor of education at Ohio State University.

Team Development Model:

This model was developed by Bruce Tuckman:

Stage 1: FORMING

This is an initial stage. The team-members  are brought from various places and various fields. They are excited and proud of being selected. But at the same time, they have their fears and suspicions about job and other co-workers. Through talking, they try to find out what is expected of them and how it would be achieved.

Stage 2: STORMING:

Since the members have come from different back-grounds, they have their own ideas to complete the work ahead of them. They would resist accepting solutions offered by others. There would be dis-unity, increased tension and may be jealousy. While they accept being part of the group, they would resist constraints imposed on them by the group leader.

Stage 3: NORMING

This phase comes when members realize that they cannot impose their views on others and are ready to cooperate with each other. They reconcile their differences, accept ground rules and confide in each other. As they resolve their differences, they put all energy on the project.


At this stage, the work flows smoothly. Strengths and weaknesses of others are understood and all work in unity, complementing each other short-comings as far as possible. Delays are covered; over-spending is balanced with economic measures to ensure that the project is completed in time within budget for the intended objectives.


On completion of the project, the team is disbanded. The project is wrapped up and handed over to the sponsors. The members go back to their parent departments. There is sense of achievement as well as gloom on parting from the friends.

Recruiting Project Members

When selecting team members, it should be ensured, as far as possible, that the member has (i) problem solving ability, (ii) Availability, (iii)Technological or administrative expertise, (iv) Creditability, (v) ambition, (vi) initiative, and (vii) energy.

Conducting Project Meetings

 The first kick-off meeting is critical to a smooth start of implementation.  According to one veteran project manager:

  • The first team meeting sets the tone for how the team will work together.  If it is dis-organized, or becomes bogged down with little sense of closure, then this can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy for subsequent group work.  On the other hand, if it is crisply run, focusing on real issues and concerns in an honest and straight-forward manner, members come away excited about being part of the project team.

in the subsequent meetings, ground rules would be established, planning and tracking system would be introduced and decision would taken as to methodolgy for a change, its approval and documentation.


  • Working Conditions
  • Job Contents
  • Resource & Organizational Support Factors


The styles range from permissive to autocratic. There is no such style suitable to all occasions. So a manager has to assess the situation and adopt a style accordingly. (This has been covered in details in a hub - Project Management-Leadership.



  • Professional Interest
  • Growth Potential
  • Incentives & Rewards
  • Amicable Conflict Resolve


  • Unclear Objectives
  • Insufficient Resources
  • Poor Job Security


Among the drivers for team-development, "Incentives and Rewards" are most potent and hence are being explained in details. Also, an example has been inserted to give a taste of "incentive-calculation".

Incentives and rewards are interchangeable. But incentives are announced before hand with a certain formula to work as motivating factors like 5% commission on sales or 5% discount on purchases beyond Rs.10,000. On the other hand, a reward is given for actual performance. In most cases, it depends on situation like reward for being top-salesperson for the year.

Incentives can be financial or non-financial. Financial-Incentives include: pay, perks, commission and bonuses. Non-Financial Incentives cover: job enrichment, job challenge and letters of appreciation.

There could be negative incentives like isolation, team pressure and warnings.

The advantages and dis-advantages are listed below:


Create interest  
Once introduced, cannot be withdrawn  
Give winners a psychological boost.  
If strict criteria is not followed, it can result in mistrust and rifts. 
Create more losers than winners (80:20 Rules).  


Suppose a city park is being developed. The workers engaged in various activities are given incentives on the following lines:

  • Cash Incentives would be 30% of the contract.
  • Incentives would starts after 70% work has been achieved.
  • Incentives would be give in two forms: (i) for individuals and (ii) for group.
  • Each work would be give weightage after discussion with the workforce.

As shown in the side tables, a team engaged in tree plantation had a contract of Rs.150,000. The team could have earned Rs.45,000 (30% of Rs.150,000) had it completed its work up to 100% and also helped others to complete their jobs. But because, the team own job remained incomplete (which affected overall project completion), the team lost Rs.19,875 out of Rs.45,000. This is explained below:


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    • hafeezrm profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks m/s Krismonte3, Muhmmad Shoaib Ikram and Zohaib Noor for your comments.

    • zohaib noor profile image

      zohaib noor 

      6 years ago

      Your hubs are really informative...i love reading it...i found so many infos with your article...thanks

    • profile image

      Muhammad Shoaib Ikram 

      7 years ago

      It seems really interesting that we can point out such an important result with simple mathematics techniques. I must say that a well-educated project manager can reduce immense losses and minimize cost with the help of such useful techniques. I think it is a win-win approach because it employs performance management approach. Even conflicts are resolved because a project manager has a calculated proof for majority of the activities. You provided me a useful insight, applicable knowledge and a learning experience.

    • krismontez3 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very helpful hub on assessing teams and managers all together. This may open to team manager to see that there team also needs acknowledgement and encouragement. Very good post.

    • Rufi Shahzada profile image

      Rufi Shahzada 

      8 years ago from Karachi

      Dear Sir,

      This hub is so informative and the Teams and the TEAMS DEVELOPMENT MODEL is so impressive.


      The example on INCENTIVE CALCULATION is explained so well.

      Thanks for being a constant source of Learning for me.



    • hafeezrm profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks John Swanson for your encouraging remarks.

    • profile image

      John Swanson 

      9 years ago

      This is a very helpful yet concise article. As the owner of a small business, I am reminded that advanced management techniques are as applicable to small businesses as they are to large multi-nationals.

      I have a very cohesive team that essentially runs my business. Like any good team, they can always benefit from the most current thinking in all areas of management. Thank-you Hafeez for this wonderful piece. I will forward it on to my staff.

      With great thanks,



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