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What is a Project Team?

A project team is defined as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance, goals, and approach. It could also be described as an assembly of people who are directly or indirectly accountable to the project manager.

However, the degree of accountability and the amount of power the project manager has over the team members are largely dependent on the type of organization and the importance and scale of the project. In a projectized organization, the project team involves all the members of the organization, while in a weak matrix or functional organization, the number of people directly and formally reporting to the project manager is relatively low, and therefore the project team is largely a "virtual" structure.

Depending on the nature and type of project, the project team can include other project stakeholders, representatives of other interested departments of the organization, and sometimes even client representatives.

In a balanced matrix organization, the project manager is normally able to colocate the members of the team in one room, which greatly helps the development of team spirit. However, in modern multinational projects it can often happen that not only are the team members located in different divisions of the company, but also that these divisions are situated on different sides of the globe.

However, regardless of the content of the team, the project manager normally uses a large number of team development activities in order to improve performance. Normally, the ability to develop the team and increase its efficiency is considered to be one of the major skills of a project manager. One of the major challenges in this sphere is related to the fact that in a real project environment, different team members are motivated by different things. Therefore, the manager must exercise a large amount of intuition and insight in order to be able to approach the right people with the right motivational factors and allow them to increase the performance and productivity of the team.

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Among the most common team development skills, one of the most important is the feeling of ownership by all the team members and the project stakeholders. This is reached by intensifying the participation of the direct and indirect team members in the planning process, which allows a results-oriented type of performance reporting and measurement instead of an objective-oriented type with frequent project team briefings and progress reporting meetings. All this should involve the use of various group techniques and delegating budget and schedule responsibility for certain tasks to relevant team members.

Project team members’ collocation is a simple but efficient tool to increase team performance and team members’ involvement. The rules developed in the organization concerning the team members’ physical location on the project site help to keep and manage the balance between the authority of project managers and functional managers.

Establishment of a just system of rewards can also become a strong tool in the team development process. However, it is important that the project manager choose the approaches to reward system development that are considered honest and fair for all the team members, and also that there is some formal authority supporting his ability to give rewards. It is also important that the reward does not become a "must" in the vision of the person being rewarded; otherwise it loses its positive motivational ability and can become a reason for negative motivation if it is taken away.

In a normal project environment, the project manager should have a certain reserve of project budget that is set up especially to pay for rewards and incentives to project team members. However, even if this budget line were not considered, there are many other types of rewards the project manager can use to increase people’s productivity. The ability of the project manager to solve conflict situations and his negotiation skills also play an important role in the overall process of developing a highly efficient and well-performing team.