Leadership & Team Management

10 top tips for project success: build a great team

Unless you’ve got all kinds of special ninja design skills, and no matter how good you are at fudging code, you need a kick-ass team to deliver your project. Without one, your project isn’t going to happen. In order for your project to be any kind of success, you’re going to need a team that is passionate about the project and tenacious in their commitment to making it a success. A happy, highly motivated and fully capable team can make any project a success.

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Serve your team

How do we build or lead the development of a great team? We serve them. Leadership isn’t about how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. We add value to others when we truly value others. Leaders who add value to others will believe in their team before their team believe in them. They serve their team instead of expecting their team just to serve them.

In practical terms, that means working out how you as a project manager are going to make your team’s life better today. It usually begins with proper resourcing, briefs, and a properly planned timeline. It means setting up tasks and deadlines in Wrike, Asana or whatever tool you’re using. Scheduling daily check-ins, with a room, and a conference line, and a screen share already booked. Now what? Coffee? Donuts? Fetch the dry cleaning – be the person that moves mountains for them. Be the one that greases the wheels to move all the barriers that could conceivably stop work from happening.

Know your team

We add value to our team when we make ourselves more valuable. This is contingent on having something of value to add – you can’t give what you don’t possess! Your personal growth will precede influence with your team and clients. We add value when we know and relate to what others need, so get to know your team. It could be that your 5 min chat with them about how best to kill a zombie is enough to make them feel valued and opens the door for you to discover what they need. When we serve our team, by leading them, and by enabling and empowering them, they follow!

Provide vision

Great teamwork comes from leadership that provides a clear unifying vision. Vision, and clearly expressing that vision is a vital component in keeping a project moving forward. Help people get hold of that vision and understand; Why are we doing this? Why should do we care? What’s the point? And then drive the team towards taking ownership; Where are we at? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? How can we be meaningfully involved?

Resource the best

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins observes that Good-to-Great leaders began the transformation by first getting ‘the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.’ That would be ideal wouldn’t it? I’m not sure that is entirely workable in an agency environment where we don’t have the ability to hire and fire their project teams!

What is important is that you take ownership of resourcing the best possible team for your project – it’s unlikely that anyone else is going to be as motivated as you to get the team you need. Own it and fight for the team you need recruiting and resourcing for your team the most capable you can. Often a big part of getting the team you need is simply ensuring you take the time to resource your project properly.

Drive carefully

As project managers we often don’t have the luxury of deciding where to drive the bus, but we can certainly influence how we drive the bus. Building a great team isn’t simply being dictatorial, it’s empowering your teams to take ownership themselves and supporting them every step of the way. Your teams have got to know that you’ve got their backs and that you’re supporting them.

A happy, highly motivated and fully capable team can make any project a success.  With the right team in place, together you will do whatever is needed to do to make the project a success.  Project success doesn’t come from a team that is worked as hard as they can – it comes from a team that is happy, motivated, and that enjoys working with one another.  It comes from a team that’s led into success by being enabled, empowered, and with a laser sharp focus on bringing a shared vision to life. Support the team and never give up.

What do you think?

What do you think? How important is building a great team key to ensuring your project success? I’d love to hear if you’ve got any thoughts on ensuring project success in digital project management. Join the conversation below and let us know what you’re thinking!

Ben Aston

Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and VP of Client Services at FCV, a full service digital agency in Vancouver, Canada. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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