Building a productive and impactful project team

As a Project Manager or business leader, you know that the secret to meeting your objectives is a productive and impactful project team...

One that will get the job done and deliver the project’s outcomes. And that will have a lasting, positive impact on your business and set you up for future change and project success.

If you approach building a team in the same conscious and methodical way that you would implement the project itself, you'll have a team that can deliver.

So how do you put a winning project team together?

Create a 'we' rather than a 'they'

Wherever possible, you want your project team to be from within the business.

If your business is responsible for implementing the change themselves, they’re more likely to put their heart and soul into it — more than an external group imposing the change on them.

A productive project team should include people from all levels; from the executive suite to the factory floor. Their range of knowledge is vital, particularly if you have external consultants in the project leadership team.

Choose the right skills

Pick your team based on their skills for the job at hand. A good mix of problem solvers, influencers, processors and compliance lovers is great - they can all contribute in a valuable way. Look for people with abilities that relate to what they're doing.

People who get along with each other isn't just nice to have. Ideally, all your team members will have communication and collaboration skills - you won't get far without them.

Make time for r n' r

Roles and responsibilities are key. People are more productive when they know what's expected of them, so make sure from kick-off that everyone knows what their role is and what they're responsible for.

Don't be vague. Address any doubts or concerns. Make it clear who holds the delegated authority and what everyone brings to the table.

Hopefully, accountability is already part of the culture, but if it's not, make sure they understand how important it is to the team's positive impact.

Some team member specifics

Project Manager

The Project Manager or Facilitator is often an external consultant. You're the expert in the project or change methodology that'll be used to deliver.

The Project or Change Leader

This is ideally the business Process Owner. They run the business function that's most affected by the project or will 'use' the deliverable. Because of their position of influence, the Process Owner is the right person to coordinate project workshops, contribute to the design, send communications and deliver training.

The Project Sponsor

The Sponsor is usually from the senior leadership team. They're responsible for making sure the project is aligned with the company strategy and meets those objectives.


These are your boots on the ground. Their buy-in, contribution and commitment are vital to the success of the project, but also for staying the course when it's back to business as usual.

This group's approval can't be underestimated. You need to actively seek confirmation from them that once you deliver the project, with the process that they helped define and the requirements they helped identify, they'll be on board.

Involve them in design, compliance checklists and setting KPIs - if they created it, they'll stick to it.

The customer

If your project deliverable directly impacts your customers, give them a seat at the table. Surprisingly, this doesn't always happen. For change or improvement projects, make sure they're part of project scoping, and seek their approval. For developments that hope to gain new customers, define that ideal customer and ask yourself whether you're meeting their needs as you progress.

Show them the 'why’

Do your team members know why they're here? They can't be productive if they don't. Make sure they understand the project process, the requirements and desired outcomes, and how this fits in with the overall business objectives - this will help them get behind it.

If strategic alignment seems a little cold for some, try linking the project initiative to the organisation's values, or mission statement.

Also, don't forget to show your team how their contribution can help them develop personally as a way to skill-up or learn about a new part of the business.

Go in to bat for the team

As a Project Manager, it's your job to quite literally, take one for the team. Give them space from the ‘business as usual’ noise to focus on doing a good job. Shield them from organisational politics and advocate on their behalf.

Don't expect peace and harmony from the get-go - a group of people doesn't instantly make a productive 'team'. Foster cooperation and empathy, promote the idea of 'we-ness', deal with conflict quickly and effectively, and communicate the common goal well and often.

Communicate and collaborate

Communication that's useful, consistent and timely has a significant impact on your team's productivity.

Set regular face to face sessions to keep team members present, and the project on track; and create a lasting, positive impact for all involved.

Build a culture of trust. When your team can see that the Project Manager trusts them, they're more likely to show trust. Foster feelings of openness and accountability and people will want to deliver. Live and encourage behaviours that will increase trust within the team, improve communication and teamwork.

Work with the Change Communications Manager on the what, when and how of your project's communication plan and stick to it. Use different ways to communicate as appropriate for your business, like email, face to face, video updates and town hall sessions.

Plan, set goals and problem-solve together. Team members that work and create collaboratively are more productive - they motivate each other, learn together and see how, individually, they contribute to the whole.

Reward and celebrate!

Project and change management are part of the fabric of business today. From fintech startups to mining corporations, that's how we get things done. When you consider how many of us play a part in project delivery or are directly impacted by the outcome, the importance of building a winning project team is evident. A productive, impactful project team equals project success.

So reward your team, recognise their contributions, toast your milestones. If you've built your team effectively, there'll be lots to celebrate.

Have you got the right stuff for your project team? Talk to us at Project Lab and let’s make it happen.

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