April 22, 2024

  • 5 MIN

Assemble the perfect project team as a project manager

Marko Albrecht

Putting together a project team: Of plans and struggles

Let's assume for the start: You are perfectly prepared on paper. Now you need to fill the project construct with life - with people. You have a wide variety of employees to choose from for projects that are about to start. Because you can often choose from

  • line employees
  • experts from other projects who will soon become available, and
  • external forces

But here is the first catch. In practice, this selection process is often more complex than on paper. After all, a project team does not assemble like a jigsaw puzzle from different pieces of expertise, which in the end produces a suitable picture.

Assembling a project team - skills, roles and the battle for high performers

What people you need is defined by the goal of the project. But as already mentioned, it is not a "technical expertise puzzle". You need employees who fill certain roles and have the appropriate technical expertise but also soft skills. For a project that runs like clockwork, you should use team members who fit the role and also fit into the team structure.

This is an important point. Many project managers select their team members primarily according to their technical expertise. The soft skills of the potential team member are often not even considered.

If you know exactly what role and expertise you need from the start and you have already found the best possible staffing: Then reach out and develop the rest of your team around it.

Assemble project team - sympathy as a trap

But which puzzle pieces, i.e. team members, fit together? Who gets which role? Here is often the next mistake that project managers make in the composition of the team. They end up in the sympathy trap and select team members according to personal preferences or emotional assessments.

This means that the team then either always includes the same employees - people know each other - or very similar people. However, a homogeneous group with similar interests and characters is no guarantee for success in challenging projects. Often it is about diversity of experience and certain personalities in the right place. These personalities do not have to fit you as a project manager as a person, but rather the project and the respective role.

So diversity is important, even if it can lead to more conflict and make the team harder to manage. You have a choice, so to speak, between

  • Feel-good teams with low performance and
  • High performance teams with wake-up moments.

Heterogeneous teams bring new ideas, a breath of fresh air and a lot of power.

Project team puzzle: How does everything fit together?

When you design your dream team on the drawing board, at first glance everyone might be communicative, team players and super goal-oriented. But that's usually not possible, but it's also not necessary.

Technical experts and tinkerer types are also allowed to be introverted personalities if you fill a communicative interface correctly. Here, for example, it is important not to force communication that does not match the personality. Because that lowers performance and increases the potential for conflict.

Different communication preferences can be influenced spatially if you have budget and choices for this. An introverted programmer can have a quiet corner, a single office or a home office. A creative team, in search of solutions, is better off in a shared space with a coffee machine and fruit bowl. Design the work environment according to tasks, roles and character traits.

At first glance, this may not seem like a "dream team" anymore, but in reality it means that even if you don't have picture-perfect team members available, they can still fit perfectly into your team. Because with the right people in the right place, you can put together the perfect project team.

Distribute hard and soft skills correctly

Who needs which hard skills and where should which soft skills be? If we come back to the picture of the puzzle: Depending on what you want the big picture to look like, you put together the pieces of the puzzle that have both hard and soft skills until you have the best possible team that complements each other in a meaningful way. This can seem or be difficult at times, but the result of realizing a high performance team that works will reward you for the effort.

PS: How you can best create such an overview, define hard and soft skills and, so to speak, design the perfect team puzzle in a very practical way, will come in one of the next posts.

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