Roles/Positions. What are the likely positions/roles on the team? Are there unique well-defined positions or will team members be performing flexible roles? Relative Importance. If there are defined positions, are some more critical to the team’s success? For example, which position(s) could most influence the success of other positions or the team overall? Which positions are worthy of the most attention during staffing because of their importance? Teamwork vs. Individual Performance. How much is this team’s success based on each team member doing their individual job well versus working together and coordinating with one another effectively? If 50% is an even split, what is the relative importance of individual performance versus teamwork for this team’s success? If team members will be able to work independently to ensure team success, teamwork becomes less important. The more that team members will need to rely on each other to accomplish the team’s goals, the greater the importance of teamwork.
It is typically worth the time to explicitly clarify requirements prior to discussing which people should be on the team. That will help ensure that collectively, the team members who are chosen have the capabilities that the team needs. In addition, although it is easier to think about position-specific requirements, teams often struggle because they don’t meet the other requirements (i.e., team-related, team role, or representative requirements), so be sure to consider those as well.Position-specific Requirements. Are there certain requirements (e.g., skills, experiences, capabilities) that a candidate should possess to be eligible or considered capable to perform a position? If so, what are they? For example, perhaps a global project leader should have worked internationally or the finance representative on a team should have a specific set of finance skills.Team-related Requirements. Are there certain skills, experiences, or capabilities that need to be represented somewhere on the team, but not necessarily in any specific position? For example, perhaps the team needs at least two people who speak Spanish, but they can be in any positions on the team. Representative Requirements. Are there any groups, regions, stakeholders, or constituents that should be represented on the team? For example, perhaps there should be at least one person from the Eastern region on the team. Will it be important to have a mix of people with diverse experiences or backgrounds? If so, what would be a desirable mix?Team Role Requirements. What type of teamwork skills or orientation will be needed on this team? For example, will the team need one or more people who: Are strong at maintaining team morale or resolving conflict? Are effective at organizing and providing structure? Will challenge the group or offer creative ideas? Can connect the team with other groups or constituents? Are reliable and can be counted on to get work done?
Eligible team members. Who will/should be considered for the team? Has the pool been established already or will you be seeking candidates/nominees? Required team members. Are there any people who must be on the team either in a specific position or somewhere on the team? For example, has anyone already been appointed or is someone already a member of the team?Constraints. Are there any candidates who can’t or shouldn’t be on the team together (e.g., because they can’t work together or because you want to save one of your top two people to be on another team)? Are any of the potential team members “unavailable” (e.g., unwilling, unable, or unavailable to be on the team)?
Position readiness. Teamwork issues aside, how ready is each candidate to fulfill the position or role for which they are being considered (i.e., assess their job-related or technical capabilities)? Team attributes. Aside from their individual, position-specific capabilities, how valuable a contributor would each candidate be to the team? What do they bring that will help or hinder the team? For example, would this person be likely to help monitor and build team morale, connect the team with key outsiders, ensure the team is organized, generate new ideas, help resolve conflict, etc.? Is this person a strong “team player” or do they tend to be more individualistic?Consider who could provide the best assessment of potential team members. If this is a very important team or if membership could be controversial, it can be helpful to involve key stakeholders who know the candidates in the team formation process.
Preliminary assignments. Considering all the factors above, tentatively assign candidates to fill each position. Where appropriate, identify an alternative candidate or two. Sometimes it will make sense to choose individuals to fill a position on the team although they may not possess the strongest individual position readiness. For example, this may be because it would be a valuable developmental experience for them, because of their likely contributions to the “team” beyond their position-specific skills, or because they help ensure the team has appropriate representation.Requirements. Review the tentative team membership. Would this team meet the basic requirements you established earlier? Does it include all required team members? Are all team-related requirements met (e.g., two people who speak Spanish). Are various regions, groups, etc. adequately represented? If any requirements are not met, is it acceptable to relax those requirements or do you need to change the proposed team composition?Individual readiness. How strong is this team individually at each position? Which positions have the strongest individual contributors and which positions have people who may be less ready? Is there a potential weak position or two? If so, is that acceptable? Overall, is this team strong enough at their individual positions to succeed?Teamwork readiness. Given theproposed composition, how likely is this team to coordinate and collaborate effectively with one another (and how important is that to success)? Do you have any concerns about them as a team? For example, are there enough people on the team who will organize, challenge, maintain morale, be a peacemaker, innovate, make connections, and/or volunteer? Would the team be better if it had a stronger peacemaker, etc.?Overall assessment. Are you satisfied with the proposed composition? What would be this team’s strengths? What concerns do you have? How comfortable are you with the people filling the most important positions on the team? Might the team be better if you switched to an alternative candidate or two?
Adjustments. If necessary, consider alternative team members and repeat the prior step. Is an alternative team stronger? What are the trade-offs?Preparation. Once you’ve decided on the team’s membership, consider what can be done to help ensure this team’s success. All teams have strengths and limitations. Establish a plan to mitigate key limitations.
Forming TeamsA Critical Stage for Project Managers Paul Cruz, JSC Kathy Doyle, GSFC Clay Yonce, KSC PM Challenge February 9, 2011 Used with permission
A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. 2 What is a Team?
Team vs. Working Group Team Shared leadership roles Individual and mutual accountability Specific team purpose that the team itself delivers Collective work-products Encourages open-ended discussion and active problem-solving meetings Measures performance directly by assessing collective work-products Discusses, decides and does real work together Working Group Strong, clearly focused leader Individual accountability The group’s purpose is the same as the broader organizational mission Individual work-products Runs efficient meetings Measures its effectiveness indirectly by its influence on others (e.g., financial performance of the business) Discusses, decides and delegates 3
“I need a team of people who will always agree with each other”
“I want to make sure I have past experiences with everyone on my team”
“I don’t need anyone’s input on membership – I have enough information to make these decisions myself”
Describe the team’s structure Clarify your requirements Establish your candidate pool Assess the candidates Make tentative assignments Review the team’s composition Refine membership as needed Establishing the Membership of Your Team
Roles/Positions Relative Importance Teamwork vs. Individual Performance Team Structure
Position-specific requirements Team-related requirements Representative requirements Team role requirements Clarify Requirements
Eligible team members Required team members Constraints Establish Your Pool
Position readiness Team attributes Assess the Candidates
Make Tentative Assignments and Review Requirements Individual readiness Teamwork readiness Overall assignment
Agency Mission Center/Program Mission Directorate/Branch/Project Mission Questions to Ask
Who does the team ultimately serve? Who are our the team’s customers/stakeholders?
What is the mission of the team? What are the deliverables?
How do the roles of individual team members contribute to the mission of the project?
Mission Statement Development Look at the answers to the “who,” the “what” and the “how” in order to develop a mission statement that captures the true spirit of the team Solicit input from the team in order to obtain buy-in
Establishing buy-in helps to make the mission (and goals) more salient to members of the team
Goal Setting Goals:
Facilitate a shared understanding of what needs to be achieved
the leader plays an important part in helping those they lead to rise to new levels of achievement
Roles/Responsibilities Leader Define roles of team members necessary to achieve the team’s project/mission
Roles are specific contributions expected from each team member to accomplish the mission
Important to be very clear about team goals and provide clear direction regarding the project/mission Work with the team to help establish how they will work together (”team norms”) Team Members Every team member is assumed to be competent in his/her specific discipline or function - formal role Team members may face many new challenges - informal role
Each team member needs to be honest as well as open Encourage a diversity of opinions on all topics Everyone given the opportunity for equal participation Be open to new approaches as well as listen to new ideas
Understanding of the Team’s Purpose Forming the team is an important first step and vital to making teams work Formation phase sets the stage for all other team activities