Leading effective teams


TIP 3: Manage Resources
The brightest people in the world can’t accomplish their goals without the
proper tools, equipment, and time. This is an important responsibility that
you have. It may require that you have some tough conversations with
your Sponsor or with other functional areas to make sure your team has
the proper resources. As a resource manager you need to:
  • Begin with sufficient resources.
  • Match team resources to the task.
  • Monitor resource requirements
Begin with Sufficient Resources
Your primary and most essential resource
is your team. You may or may not have
chosen any or all of your team members.
Nevertheless, one of your tasks as a team
leader is to ensure that the team has
identified all of the skills or disciplines
Always make sure you keep your team the right size. This will help ensure that
the team will make efficient decisions. At the same time, all of the technical or
organizational representation should be obtained to complete the team’s
assignment. When you choose your team members or are able to provide input
into the selection process, use the Tool for Selecting Team Members.
What is the Right Size for a Team?
One of the critical responsibilities of your team is effective decision making;
therefore, you must be careful not to build a team that is too large. Typically, a
group of more than eight people will take an inordinately long time to explore
inputs from all its members and reach any significant degree of consensus on the
best approach. Observation of teams in a variety of settings indicates that five
seems to be an optimal number.
These are obviously only guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Fit the size of the
team to the specifics of the task. Later, if the team appears too large to work
very efficiently, consider splitting into two or more smaller teams.
Match Team Resources to the Task
You need the right people and
the right skill sets assigned to all
the team’s tasks. In addition, you
want to make sure that tasks are
equitably distributed so no one is
overburdened and everyone is
doing their fair share.
As we have all experienced, one task can have many sub-tasks. Match the
tasks to those who are best equipped to manage them. This will provide
optimum effectiveness of team member resources. As your team matures,
tasks will certainly change and new ones will surface.
(You will sleep better if you realize this now.) Also, team members may
likely change and so tasks will need to be reassigned. As the work of a
team becomes more complex, tasks need to be accounted for and
managed by all members in this dynamic way.
A Responsibility Matrix is helpful in keeping track of who performs
what task.
Monitor Resource Requirements
The scope of work may change. Team members come and go. Equipment
breaks down. Budgets are cut. Schedules are overrun. Often, it feels as though
there is a conspiracy working against you.
Your job is to continually monitor resource
requirements and make sure your team has
what it needs (not only in the beginning, but
also throughout the project). When resources
are tight your team’s needs may not be
someone else’s top priority. You may want to
practice effective negotiation skills to help you
in this situation, for persuasion and influence
can help you obtain additional resources when
Effective Negotiation Skills
Negotiation is a process of exchanging something in order to get what is wanted
or needed from someone else. First, you need to identify those who have the
resources, and then determine what type of exchange is desirable by the other
Waiting until the time comes that you need to negotiate is waiting too long to
establish the network that you must tap into for support. This exchange best
occurs in a positive climate, which implies that an effective negotiator maintains
positive relationships with everyone. A successful negotiator is someone who
seeks win-win relationships, whether negotiating with peers or your own
TIP 4: Measure Performance
As a team leader, you want to develop the kind of team that holds itself
responsible for tracking, analyzing, and modifying its plans and its
performance. This makes your job easier and is key to the team’s ability of
developing and practicing self-monitoring.
In a team environment, the leader is not the only one responsible for
keeping the goal in mind, monitoring progress, and planning a change
when the team is off track. When true teamwork exists, the team tends to
take more responsibility than does the leader. This means that the team is
willing, or even wants to be, responsible for measuring and monitoring its
own performance. Team evaluation includes at least two distinct efforts.
You need to help the team.
  • Evaluate productivity.
  • Assess how well the team is working together
Evaluate Productivity
The team needs to do more than just define its
task. It needs to assess the status of its task.
Using metrics, or measurements, will give some
indication of how the team is doing with respect
to the key characteristics of its task. These
metrics need to provide a measure of progress.
Therefore, metrics need to be useful during the
team’s work, not just after it is finished.
Work teams often have organizationally established metrics that must be
tracked and reported as part of their regular work process.
For project teams, a significant factor on which evaluation is based is a
comparison of its current status and expenditures to its planned schedule and
budget. This assumes that the team has planned and laid out a somewhat
detailed and realistic schedule and budget; and they have the tools and
knowledge to do such a comparison.
Some Guidelines on Creating Metrics
The strength of a team approach is the breadth and depth of knowledge and
ingenuity a team has in dealing with the unexpected. Trying to keep a schedule
and budget relatively intact will sorely challenge most teams. The starting point
is a regular and frequent (maybe weekly, but certainly no less often than
monthly) evaluation of schedule and budget performance.
Be sure to:
1. Keep the number of metrics small to keep them from becoming
2. Have the team first identify the key characteristics of its product or
service. These characteristics will spell the difference between success
and failure.
3. Lead the team in brainstorming a number of possible metrics for each of
these key characteristics. (The point is to go past the obvious metrics,
especially if they are badly flawed or too difficult to measure.)
4. Pick the best metrics and try them.
5. Revisit these metrics after using them and decide whether they are
adequate. If not, go back to the brainstorming step.
It is important that the measure is a dependable indication of the direction in
which the effort is going.
Assess How Well the Team is Working Together
How important are team dynamics? Wouldn’t it be
more beneficial if the team spent all its time and effort
doing real work? These are valid questions. And it’s
true that if the team works well together but fails to do
the task, the effort is clearly not a success.
Nevertheless, the level of teamwork is important.
While a team that works well together doesn’t
necessarily guarantee results, a team that doesn’t
work well together rarely achieves its goals
Informal evaluations, more like conversations or bull sessions, are valuable in
getting a quick read of how well the team is operating.
Assessing how well the team is working together can also be done more formally
to provide quantifiable data. A Team Effectiveness Evaluation has been
included in the Tools for this purpose.
Assessing Effectiveness of Teamwork
Assessing how well the team is working together should be done
frequently. It should be a mutual effort of the team leader and the team
• Ask team members how they feel they are doing. What are they doing
well together? Where are some opportunities to be more effective in their
• Formal assessments allow the team to more objectively track their
progress. These assessments serve as a snapshot, providing a record of
how the team has changed and grown.
• In addition to team evaluations, it is also useful to solicit observations and
evaluations from other stakeholders, such as internal or external
customers and suppliers. The more complete the picture is of the team
performance, the more adequate and accurate the course changes will be.
Session 1: FOCUS on Results
Do not let your team fall into the trap of spending lots of time talking and
little time doing. As team leader, your responsibility is to make sure that
everyone on the team continually focuses on results. In order to do this,
you have learned how to:
Tip #1: Document the purpose.
Tip #2: Confirm performance requirements.
Tip #3: Manage resources.
Tip #4: Measure performance.
These should all be documented in a Team Charter.