Why is teamwork important for project management?
July 2, 2019

Why Is Teamwork Important For Project Management Success?

By Brian McHale

Clients are complicated, tasks suddenly grow in scope and yet, there’s nothing like teamwork or lack thereof to make or break a project.

Of all the causes of project failure (or project complications), poor communication is the most dangerous one. Over one third of all projects fail because teams aren’t cooperating well enough.

But when you look at the other side of the coin, collaboration and good teamwork can go a long way towards making everyone more satisfied.

So how do you bring in a strong sense of teamwork in your project if you’re not a professional project manager?

Let’s take a look!

Why Is Teamwork Important in the Workplace?

Great teamwork in project management achieves three very important goals:

  • Projects are completed on time and in full
  • Individual team members feel more satisfied with their roles which gives them extra motivation to perform
  • A well-oiled team contributes to a healthy work environment.

And when you combine all three, you get a recipe for long-term success.

A great team is especially important if you haven’t had a lot of formal project management education, they can help you to work through the process and bring home a successful project.

When you implement some of the project management teamwork practices we’ll outline below, you’ll notice that:

  • You’ll be able to take more risks that lead to positive outcomes. When you can rely on your team to communicate and work together effectively, mitigating risks becomes a piece of cake.
  • Conflicts? What conflicts? Project management for small teams and big teams alike means you’ll be able to resolve conflicts to everyone’s satisfaction more often. In fact, you’ll also notice that conflicts happen less often because…
  • It improves trust. If your team can exchange their opinions honestly, and if you encourage them to rely on each other to succeed, they’ll start trusting each other. And just like a family, they’ll know that they need to compromise to get along and finish the project successfully.
  • Teamwork in project management leads to increased efficiency and productivity. Everyone’s putting their strengths forward, holding themselves accountable, and they’re not afraid to ask for help since they respect one another. You’ll notice less friction and more can-do attitudes all around.
  • As the team works together, they’ll be more open to giving feedback that ultimately leads to improvement. This is especially important if you work on projects regularly.
  • Finally, teamwork in project management doesn’t negate everyone’s individual strengths and needs. You’ll be giving everyone a chance to shine and you’ll be allowing them to develop their own skills and grow their careers.

Everyone wants their projects to feel like a picnic all the time. And that’s not impossible.

The only thing your team needs is you, as their leader, to show them how to get there.

How Can (Project Managers) Facilitate Good Teamwork?

The first thing to understand is that you’re working with a diverse group of people. Everyone’s coming from a different perspective, and they all believe they have the project’s best interests at heart.

What can seem like a bad course of action from a designer’s perspective can seem like the best possible thing to a marketer.

And as a leader, you need to know how to help them work together, instead of working against one another.

In this case, honesty really is the best policy.

For example, a good leader would find time for the two team members to sit down and talk out their disagreements.

Conversely, you could focus on meeting the deadline, skip that conversation and say: “We’ll do it this way”. However, that doesn’t help the two team members communicate and collaborate.

Chances are, they’ll be sniping at each other.

Another way of facilitating teamwork can be found in scheduling and delegating tasks.

When no one’s 100% sure what they should be doing, the lines get blurred. Team members constantly butt heads and try to veto another team member’s decision.

Good project managers know that the best way to help their team work together is by delegating tasks and responsibilities clearly.

For example, if your team has to create an app and you have two front-end developers, you should make the tasks and responsibilities very clear. Mary should know that she has to create the wireframes, and Mark has to know that defining interaction models is his responsibility.

This way, they can’t shift the blame. Instead, they’ll hold themselves accountable and the entire team can keep doing their best work.

This is why teamwork in project management relies on your leadership skills.

And while it can take some time to get to a place where you say: “I’m an excellent leader,” you can start with a few simple tricks that will help you lead by example and show your people how to collaborate effectively.

How to Foster Project Management Teamwork

Projects go through a few stages on their way to completion, and so do teams.

Project Life Cycle

Image source: Project Management Institute

In the first stage, your priority should be helping teammates trust one another.

If you’re dealing with a team that hasn’t worked together before, you can start with the tried and true ice-breaking method “Hello, my name is…”

Help your team members find similarities by inviting them to share what:

  • They like working on the most
  • Their interests are (both at work and outside of work)
  • They find challenging at their job
  • Inspires them.

If you have a bit more time for the team to get acquainted and connect, you can even try a kickoff ice breaker game like “Tell me something good” or simply schedule a happy hour.

As you progress to the next natural stage of the project, you should bring up (project) objectives and motivations.

Help your team understand why you’re all working on the project, and what the project will do for them as individuals.

You can do this through group meetings and by scheduling one-on-one meetings that will help you show interest in each team member’s individual growth.

If your team understands how the project will help them grow as individuals, they’ll be more willing to work together to accomplish common, project-related goals and the personal goals they can only achieve with the help of their teammates.

When you start working on the project, it’s important to encourage positive behavior and communication.

Projects can get hectic but as a manager, you should make sure that your team is collaborating effectively.

Good task management goes a long way.

Your team should understand how their team depends on their task completion, and vice versa.

You should also track project performance and course-correct when necessary. This way, you’ll be able to understand if everyone’s on schedule.

Project Team Development

Image source: Project Management Institute

Consider using project management tools, as well. Even a simple tool integrated with your organization’s Office 365 account goes a long way towards helping you facilitate teamwork in project management.

Solve problems together and recognize achievements.

Problems are never something we want to experience, but they’re vital to improving teamwork.

If you encourage your team to work together on solving projects and acknowledge different perspectives, you’ll be able to spot risks earlier and mitigate them.

And not only that, but you’ll also be bringing a lot more creativity to the table.

So when you and your team have successfully completed your projects, don’t forget to set aside some time for celebration.

You deserve it.

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