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How to Build and Lead High-Performing Teams

December 11, 2023

According to the 2023 Project Management Institute (PMI) Annual Global Survey on Project Management, two-thirds of companies are engaged in digital transformation efforts.

Companies also prioritising shifts in organisational strategy, adoption of new technology and expansion into new markets; therefore, they must become future-focused project teams to drive these changes.

Hence, project managers face unique challenges, such as managing cross-functional and temporary teams, often spread across the globe. Therefore, they are turning to a set of skills that PMI calls “power skills,” which encompass culture, empowerment, engagement, and resilience. 

PMI has published a comprehensive report with four guideposts for building high-performing and forward-thinking project teams. They are:

Culture: Cultivating an Ethos for Change

In a world marked by diversity and innovation, building a strong team culture is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Culture begins with a profound understanding of your organisation’s values, attitudes, behaviors, and standards. Therefore, project managers must adopt the role of servant leaders, inspiring teams to deliver innovative and inclusive solutions.

According to PMI, the following are tools for companies to build the right culture:

  • Involve the team in setting guidelines for communication and collaboration.
  • Develop practices to acknowledge the team’s efforts and celebrate successes.
  • Facilitate team members switching roles or shadowing one another to provide a firsthand look at what each team member faces.
  • Share project progress with the entire organisation to ease transparency and engagement.

Empowerment: Understanding What Inspires Strong Performance

In today’s working environment, project leaders face the challenge of nurturing the next generation of leaders while also promoting cross-generational collaboration. PMI recommends various knowledge-sharing techniques such as mentoring, lessons learned, good-practice archives, and project-specific coaching.

The following could be used to encourage understanding:

  • Provide a process for mentoring and coaching between senior and junior team members.
  • Help team members identify areas for skill development and connect them with learning opportunities.
  • Encourage team members to take advantage of the organization’s professional development programs.

Engagement: Forging Real Connections — and a Sense of Purpose — in a Virtual World

Given the ongoing work arrangements whether remote, hybrid or in-office, team engagement has taken a new form. The challenge lies in effectively engaging team members from who are not in the office. Therefore, ensuring flexibility and inclusivity are key to building trust and promoting genuine collaboration.

PMI recommendation for enhancing engagement:

  • Focus on people rather than tools or technology.
  • Set limits on video calls to prevent screen fatigue.
  • Look for creative ways to engage in person where possible.
  • Seek feedback from the team on virtual engagement processes and apply lessons learned to improve collaboration.

Resilience: Bouncing Back — Again (and Again)

Achieving resilience is a challenge, particularly in a landscape marked by hiring freezes and workforce reductions. Therefore, building a resilient team requires creative working norms, adaptable communication styles, and proactive problem-solving.PMI recommendation for building resilience:

  • Check-in with team members regularly on their well-being and stress levels.
  • Look for tools and technology that can help the team work smarter, not harder.
  • Facilitate brainstorming sessions with the team to encourage innovation.
  • Make time for the planning to ensure expectations of both team members and stakeholders.

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