Hello, readers, and welcome to another article in our project management series. Today we will be discussing a powerful project management tool/process known as Team building.

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Team building has been adopted and recognized by organizations as an important factor in providing quality service and remaining competitive. However, the term itself seems rather nebulous—people often know they need it but are not quite sure of how to apply it effectively.

As a project manager, you are often saddled with the responsibility of forming a project team. How do you go about choosing the right people for your project and what do you have to do to ensure a cohesive bond among team members? There are a lot of relevant qualities we look for as project managers; tops among them are reliability and intelligence. Sometimes we tend to make compromises when choosing between reliability and intelligence in project management.

This article seeks to discuss an effective team-building process and its major factors, highlighting “reliability” and “intelligence” as key qualities. At the end of the article the reader will be enlightened on which is best when we are faced with an option of choosing between both qualities.

Effective Team Building

What Is Team Building? A team is a group of interdependent people working together to achieve a common goal. Team building is therefore the process of enabling that group of people to reach its goal. Team building is a project-focused process that builds and develops shared goals, interdependence, trust, commitment, and accountability among team members.

The Team Building Process

Team building is a very crucial process for project managers. Building the team requires more than just hiring a bunch of talented people. It means:

  • Hiring people who will work well together
  • Developing a shared vision and commitment
  • Physically bringing people together in formal group meetings for open discussion of broad-based issues
  • Encouraging positive, informal interactions between group members
  • Instilling a “winning” attitude throughout the organization
  • Watching for and quickly trying to reverse team-building problems, such as jealousy, cynicism, and defensive behavior.

The manager has to take care when choosing the right people. The “right people” required for the team do not have to be the most qualified in “absolute” terms; they are simply the most qualified for that specific project/team. The team should consist of a combination of different sets of skills, capabilities, and abilities rather than a series of clones with identical skills. This is so the group represents the various skills needed in the proportions required for the project.

The project manager should not be seduced by the reams of paper qualifications possessed by individuals; as much as it is important, such individuals may not necessarily be the right choice for the project.

Factors to Consider

When building a project team, assuming the people have the right technical skills for the work to be done, these other qualities should be used in selecting the team members:

  1. Reliability

    This is the ability to count on an individual or trust the person’s judgment. It largely involves consistent good performance and timeliness.

  2. Intelligence

    This is the ability for a team player to be clever and show quick understanding. It is also the ability to think quickly to find solutions to problems

  3. Constructive Communication

    This is the ability of individuals to speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, honestly, with respect, without shying away, and in the best way possible—positively and confidently.

  4. Flexibility

    This is the ability of a player to adapt to the ever-changing situations and environments at work.

  5. Cooperation and Commitment

    A team player should work well with others and show interest in the work in order to accomplish the given task.

  6. Being Proactive (Active Participation)

    Good team players are proactive. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions. They’re fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines.

    Reliability or Intelligence?

    As mentioned earlier, both reliability and intelligence are of high importance in any project and whenever a compromise has to be made, the selection is dependent on a number of factors; discretion of the manager, nature of the project, size of the organization, etc. They both generally encompass the largest part of the other aforementioned qualities.

    Reliability—This has to do with the soundness and consistency of ‘character’ of a team member. A reliable team member gets the work done. Such an individual follows through on assignments and can be counted on to deliver good performance all the time, not just some of the time.

    Reliability is very important in building teams for “familiar territory projects,” i.e., projects where the technical knowledge is already available. For example, an architectural firm wanting to create an interior design department would consider reliable team members, since they are likely to already have architects with the knowledge of interior design.

    Reliability is also very important in organizing a department that involves routine work, such as customer service, sales and marketing, etc. Once the broad strategy of the department has been determined, reliable staffs are required for implementation.

    Advantages

  • Reliability attracts good reputation.
  • A reliable team member is usually a solid tactician and can be counted on to get the job done.
  • A reliable team member is collaborative and helps reach solid solutions in a team setting.

Disadvantage

  • A reliable person might be too predictable and eventually not appreciated in the team, i.e., might be taken for granted.

Intelligence is the quickness of a team member’s understanding. It is the display of high-level intellect and wisdom of an individual. The team deals with all kind of problems for the duration of the project. The intelligent team member is a problem-solver and is not afraid of facing challenges.

An intellectual team member is quickly able to understand other teammates and the project activities at large. There is a high likelihood of success for in intelligent team member when given a task. Here’s a famous quote from Warren Buffet: “A man’s level of emotional, spiritual stability, and intelligence is responsible for his success.” That (individual) success is able to extend to and/or influence other team members to succeed in their own various tasks and eventually attain project success.

The choice of Intelligence is ideal where technical knowledge is lacking and required for a project. New product/project development, research and development, creativity and innovation projects, etc., are types of projects in which a high level of intelligence is preferred. For example, if the owner of a fashion line who has decided to switch into the IT industry decides to build his/her project team, it would only be logical to go for intelligence ahead of reliability when selecting the project team members. This is because the new project (IT consultancy) is an unfamiliar territory and a high-level knowledge base on information technology (IT) is required for the team to function effectively.

Specialized organizations such as atomic engineering firms are often the most common examples of organizations that would adopt intelligence over reliability. This is because they expect not just into product/ service delivery, but also innovation and advancement.

Advantages

  • Intelligent team members are able to help the team discover quicker solutions in times of challenge.
  • An intelligent team member (with positive energy) is able to positively influence the intellect of other teammates
  • Intelligence is a core quality of a leader. An intelligent individual would assist the project manager’s leadership capabilities.

Disadvantages

  • A publication on psychology suggests that “super-intelligent” people are unsocial and obscure, i.e., they tend not to relate well to those at a lower intelligence level.
  • An intelligent team member will more likely agree with what his/her intellect says is right over the instruction of the manager. This is called Intelligent Disobedience. It basically means doing what is right over what is expected or instructed. Intelligent disobedience in itself is not negative; however, if it is possessed by a team member and not the leader (project manager) it would result in disputes.

SUMMARY

Today we set out to discover which of the major qualities, reliability or intelligence, is to be considered in building an effective management team. We were able to define both qualities, among others, and state the pros and cons of both. We were also able to state where each functions more effectively against the other. Reliability is just as important as intelligence; what guides the selection of either one depends on factors such as the nature of the project, discretion of the manager, size of the organization, etc. To a certain extent, we believe we have assisted our readers in being able to build their effective project teams. So, as a manager, when next you have the responsibility of creating a team for a certain project, you know exactly what to look out for and what to prepare for.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.