The Effectiveness of Project Team Development

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There is no doubt that project teams is playing increasingly important role in most of the successful project. To achieve this, building an effective team is basically start from the first day of the team's existence. Project manager plays important task that carries responsibilities to manage and develop commitment of every team members. It is important for project manager to have adequate knowledge to manage teams as it is a complex mix of human resources management, people skills, technical understanding and process facilitation. It is crucial for every project management to have dynamic project teams which are not static and unchanging. There are also several barriers exist in building a project teams that need to be concerned as this will affect the results of the project and the effectiveness of team development. This paper is critically emphasizes on the team building with project team development stage model, characteristic of effective team members and case study in regard to project adaption and success. The structure of the paper will begin with the introduction, terminologies section, characteristics of effective team members, team development stage, case study and review if the case studies as well as conclusion as the summarization of the whole topic.

Keywords: project team, team building, project manager, team development stage model, effectiveness


Initially, a team is highly necessary to run a project. Without an effective project team, it is hardly to achieve project's goals. In fact, one of the hardest aspects of project management is managing the individuals on the project. There are various formal and informal roles that team members play in creating successful projects and also the potential for a single person to play more than one simultaneously on smaller projects (Cooke and Tate, 2005). In short, every team in project has their own responsibilities that carry both formal and informal task and sometimes they are also assigned to run in big or small project concurrently based on the project requirements to achieve project successfulness.

Besides, to manage a project team, it is highly necessary to have a good leadership or a project manager to control project by leading, inspiring and motivating all project team to greater heights for project success. As stated by Bubshait and Farooq (1999), successful project managers recognize the importance of people because they know that without people, no project would exist in the first place. They also indicated that people or team are the initiators, developers and users of project. It shows here, team is plays an important role in completing quality and innovative project in order to produce a good result within the budget and on time.


Numerous case studies and articles have been written about team and team building in the project management. There are various definitions of team from many authors with different point of views. According to Harodyski (1995), team is a group of people that cooperate and work together to achieve a given set of objectives or goals. As suggested by Bennett (1994) that written by Ingram et al., (1997), team is special types of group that voluntarily ties the members towards held objectives. For Baca (2007), the people who will create the product of the project is called team member. While Bushait and Farooq (1999), defined team as a collection of individuals with different needs, backgrounds and expertise. Both of these authors also stated that team is cross functional which is a matrix and project management organizations' characteristic. Based on Eskerod and Blichfeldt (2005) article as taken from Katzenbach and Smith (1993), team is a small number of individuals that have complementary skills and they are committed to a common purpose, performance goals as well as approach for which they hold themselves accountable.

Based on the above definitions, basically team term brought similar concept, where it carry out defined, a group of people with specific skills and knowledge and is assigned to run a specific task in achieving goals and objectives. Every author has their own point of views to describe it based on their different areas of expertise and experiences.

Project teams are essential in performing for both big and small project. The definition of project teams as pointed by Zwikael and Unger-Aviram (2010) are unique type of teams. Project teams are now seen as a popular organizational form under environments where coordinated actions directed towards a non-routine goal are needed (Rikards and Moger, 2000). Project teams who work well together are able to contribute and focus on the work and also lead to the production of work on time, meet a budget and of course achieve project's goals. In addition, project team is a group of people that is responsible and assigned to perform task and producing deliverables based on the project strategy.

Team building is acceptable by the belief that there is a family life bond within working groups that can be used for the company's benefit (Beyer and Trice, 1987). In addition, team building is the process of identifying members in project. This process is significant to select appropriate people to handle and perform the project plan. In a certain circumstances, sometimes the team building process will starts before project approval, however full team only can be developed after the project is formally approved and organizational and contractual pattern are identified (Diwan, 1999). For Johns (1995) team building is the action taken by project manager, team members and line management to enables a group of people to perform a good job, to think and act together.


The people side of project management is very important for project success and in order for project to be successful, every individual including team leader or project personnel need to be properly managed. This aspect is crucial because it will lead them to contribute towards the achievement of the project goals. In the other hand, with good team members, it brings benefits including increased involvement, development and empowerment of employees, expand the use of employee skills and capabilities, helps in decision making process, growing in creativity and work processes and performance may improve. Creating effective team members is crucial. They are several characteristics of the effective members that are normally contributes to the successful of project.

Have ultimate goals and plans

A clear defined mission and goals encourage the team members to share purpose and common goals and willing and strive to achieve the goals and plans. Besides, team members are willing to put on their head the team's goal with their goal are basically same.

Listen to everyone in the team

Be an active listening, attempt to understand and concentrate to other team's point of views. Think and make a best option before making a decision. This criteria help team to identify and clarify the alternative ay to overcome problem arises. For team leader this criteria is very crucial because it is the aspect where the project can be perform without any unsatisfied matter occurs.

Have positive relationship among team members

By having good relationship with other team mates, the team will easier to perform their job as this can assist them in contributing ideas such as brainstorming process and run the project together with easily and effectively. This characteristic is applied for both team project and project manager or team leader.

Overcome problems and make decision on time

To be an effective team member, he or she is required to solve a problem and make a decision on time. With the knowledge and skills, they should have a capability to identify the best solution for any problem arises and able to rectify the problem and also faster make decision to prevent any project delays and cost overrun.

Able to manage conflict

An effective team is able to identify and resolve to any problems exist in timely during the project running. They also are capable to minimize conflicts as much as can to ensure the project will be completed on time. To achieve this criteria, the organization is suggested to provide a training program to all the teams. This will assist them in managing conflict effectively and efficiently.

Facilitate productive meeting

Team leader is efficiently, productively and has the skill in well managed meetings that efficiently use team member's time. The productive meeting is important in identifying any potential risk and problems that may occurs during the implementation project. Besides by having meeting, all the team members may share and contribute ideas pertaining to achieve successful project. In addition through meeting, team members can develop plan and generate recommendations to stay on project track or schedule.

Know roles of team members

An effective team member also understands the roles of every team members in the project. By understanding every responsibility of every team members, it will assist the team to clarify other team member's job and assist them to search a respective team according to a specific skills and knowledge if any problems occur that required other team's skills and knowledge.

Operate in productive manner

This criteria means, team members have the resources and skills to success and they are able to complete their works on time and facilitate quality and quantity measures to evaluate overall efficiency and effectiveness as well.


There are number of models that describe the stages that teams go through on the way to be productive. One of the most famous ones has self-explanatory tittles for the stages. This team development stages model was developed by Bruce Tuckman in the 1970s. This model can be as levels of guideline for every project manager in managing their project team effectively. Other than that, by understanding and applying this practice into project management, it assist the team leader or project manager to have a better preparation to detect any changes or problem and take appropriate action to help the team. This model can be applied in order to see how teams are emerging and explain how behaviours and feelings of each team members at any given time.

At first the Tuckman's model in 1965 consists of four (4) important stages, there are, forming, storming, norming and performing. After subsequent review by Tuckman and Jensen (1977), the stages have added to another important element known as adjourning as represented in Figure 1.

C:\Users\IJA\Pictures\Tuckman's model diagram_0.JPG

Figure 1: The stage model of team development by Tuckman and Jensen (1977)

Source: Joanne Leith. The importance of team. Retrieved on 9 August, 2010 from

4.1 Forming Stage

Forming is the stage where all the team members meet and begin to work with each other for the first time. In this stage, teams are concerned to study the boundaries of acceptable team behaviour. This is a platform where the team come together with a sense of anticipation and commitment (Bubshait and Farooq (1999). In the other hand, this is a stage of transition from individual to become project member status and they look to the leader or other individual that are responsible to give them some clear picture in order to assist them get started (Lewis, 2007). This can be considered as a one way communication which is from leader to team member.

Forming stage is quite stressful since everyone is new in the project and sometimes they even did not know each other. Due to this fact, team effectiveness is actually moderate and their motivation is high because they are being selected to be part of the team (Bubshait and Farooq, 1999). This will become more stressful if the project manager is not suitable with the project teams and this will automatically impact the process in performing and producing efficient work. Forming stage consist of several feelings and behaviours as represented in the Table 1.

Table 1: Feelings and behaviours in forming stage



Excitement, anticipation and optimism

Pride in being chosen for the project

Initial, tentative attachment to the team

Suspicion, fear and anxiety about the job or if they will be accepted by others

Attempts to define the task and decide how it will be accomplished

Attempts to determine acceptable group behaviour and how to deal with group problems

Decision on what information need to be gathered

Lofty, abstract discussions of concepts and issues; or for some members, impatience with these discussions

Discussion of symptoms or problems not relevant to the task; difficulty in identifying relevant problems

Complaints about the organization and barriers to the task

Posturing, external and internal behaviours

Source: Tuckman's stages of team development. Retrieved on 12 August, 2010 from

4.2 Storming Stage

Storming stage is challenging compare with the forming stage where this stage involves views and disagreement from team members instead of listening only to the instruction from the team leader. Based on Mackintosh (2007), storming stage sometimes will cause conflicts or problems among the team members even the forming stage was run and planned well. While for Rickards and Moger (2000), storming is the stage that involves personal conflicts. During this stage, team leader is holding heavy task where their leadership quality is tested (Mackintosh, 2007). As point of view by Bubshait and Farooq (1999), this stage involves various views by team members and they are dispute each other and this factor causes fail to the motivation and effectiveness of the team. However, even the arguing among team members emerges through this stage; it is also a beginning for them to know each other. Table 2 shows the feelings and behaviours occur during the storming stage.

Table 2: Feelings and behaviours in storming stage



Resistance to the task and to suggested approaches different from what they know

Sharp fluctuations in attitude about the team


Arguing among members even when they agree on the real issue.

Defensiveness and competition; factions and "choosing sides."

Questioning the wisdom of those who selected the project and appointed the other members of the team.

Establishing unrealistic goals; concern about excessive work.

A perceived "pecking order", disunity, increased tension, and jealousy.

Source: Tuckman's stages of team development. Retrieved on 12 August, 2010 from

4.3 Norming Stage

This stage where the team is starting to work well together and the goals, roles, strength and weaknesses are identified. The team members are unite and agree on the principles cooperation, even though there are several opinions from many team members. During this stage the level of motivation and effectiveness start to increase (Bubshait and Farooq, 1999). According to Mackintosh (2007), norming stage is the stage that covers rules and regulations where through this stage, all team members are aware each other and it produce strong relationship among them. Besides, conflicts on emotion are also reduced and team members become more cooperative instead of having competitive relationship. As shown in Table 3, it listed the feelings and behaviours that might be occurred during norming stage.

Table 3: Feelings and behaviours in norming stage



A new ability to express criticism constructively

Acceptance of membership in the team

Relief that it seems everything is going to work out.

An attempt to achieve harmony by avoiding conflict.

More friendliness, confiding in each other, and sharing of

A sense of team cohesion, a common sprit and goals.

Establishing and maintaining team ground rules and boundaries (the "norms").

Source: Tuckman's stages of team development. Retrieved on 12 August, 2010 from

4.4 Performing Stage

The fourth stage is performing, which all team members are focus on the team goals and they are begin to create strong relationship and built trust each other. Due to this fact, they may reach a high level of motivation and effectiveness (Bubshait and Farooq, 1999). Through this stage, all team members are aware and concern on the strength and weaknesses of the project and they are also work towards on that as they know rewards will be given after completion of project. According to Mackintosh (1997), the team members are comfortable in this stage compared with the storming stage where this stage is a platform that leads for the personal growth among the team members. During performing stage, project manager's role become easier because the team members understand what their roles are and they are complete self-directed. The table 4 shows, the feelings and behaviours in performing stage.

Table 4: Feelings and behaviours in performing stage



Members having insights into personal and group processes, and better understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses

Satisfaction at the team's progress

Close attachment to the team

The team is now working effectively as a cohesive unit. You can tell when your team has reached this stage because you start getting a lot of work done

Source: Tuckman's stages of team development. Retrieved on 12 August, 2010 from

4.5 Adjourning Stage

In other different team development model, adjourning term is also known as mourning. Adjourning is final stage where team reaches some kind of termination level which is through accomplishment or membership disruption (Rickards and Morger, 2000). In this stage, team members are brief and share the improved process and successful project as well. They also may feel a sense of loss.

In a certain circumstances, if a new team is join the project team, the whole team will regress from the beginning and they have to act faster to get back on track.


This section will be presented two cases studies about project team members with adaption of team development stages model in regard to project success.

5.1 Case study 1

Team moving through five stages: A case study

This case study is about the project to improve the performance of company in managing and supporting their client base. The project was leaded and guided by a leader from Chicago office that has 15 years experience as a project manager or team lead managing process improvement projects. This case study was performed by five individuals with different skills, abilities and experiences from various of large service organization. The project was conducted in virtually by using SharePoint site as a medium to interact each other. However, the team leader also has preferred to meet face to face initially. This case study was used the Tuckman's model (1977) as a guideline for the team leader to understand how to build an effective team and also to continue to manage and motivate them in order to achieve project goals. The findings of the case study will be discussed further.

The project was begun with the initial meeting as a first stage in Tuckman's model known as forming stage. In this stage, all the team members were assembled and the meetings covered all essential aspects before the project get started. Based on first stage, it was found out that all team members were excited and ready to get work together. They were agreed to every task which has been assigned to them. Overall the first stage was in charged successfully by the team leader.

The project work were begins in the storming stage. During this stage, arguments and conflicts between team members were emerged. This was happened due to unsatisfied of job assigned and issues of seniority or experiences for particular job aspect. For this reason, the team leader was initially taken a side role to overcome these conflicts. She managed to solve the problems with a win win situation for every of her team members by selecting the best options.

During the norming stage, everything was going smoothly. There were still have some arguments and disagreements but they were managed to overcome it without relying on the team leader to make decision for them. They were also become a teamwork and enjoy working with each other.

After the completion of norming stage the fourth stage was taken place, which is performing stage. By this stage, the team has reached "high performing team". It was discovered some of the team members have developed their skills and leadership roles with the support of others. The project was completed on time within the budget. Besides, the team leader was rewarded by the team because of her good performance in managing the project.

Finally the project was achieved it goals where their internal customer was pleased and there is improvements in how the company supports its clients. The team has united together to do some evaluation on the project done that including documenting best practices and way to improve any mistakes done during the implementation of project.

5.2 Case Study 2

Diamonds in the rough: A case study of team development across disciplines, distances and institutions

The purpose of this case study is to explore team building strategies by describing reactions of every respective faculty to their participation in a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team project which performed via distance. The team members of this project consist of five different universities and from various agriculture disciplines. The teams were gathered to develop online educational resources. The results of the case study that adapted into team development stages are presented in Figure 2.

C:\Users\IJA\Pictures\team development stages.jpg

Figure 2: Integration of Tuckman's (1965) Small Group Development Model into One Team's Experience

Source: Susan Fritz et al., Diamonds in the rough: A case study of team development across disciplines, distances and institutions. Retrieved on 9 August, 2010 from

From the findings also, they have pointed out several important elements that engaged during the execution of project. There are motivation for collaboration, timeline, evaluation and rewards, team leader, cohesion, interaction, trust and some miscellaneous findings.

In the forming stage, it was discovered that two of team members were inspired to sharpen their skills and motivated to further their knowledge in Web-based instructions. While there were some questioning of team objectives occurs during the storming stage due to the progressed and deadline of project were frequently unmet. There were also an issue pertaining to the evaluation and rewards where they were concern over little support from their team mates and administrators as well. During this stage, the team leader was strict to ensure the team members keep on track.

In the norming and performing stages, the trust and friendship were built. It was found out that there were distances separating them in running the project but the team grew from a mere work group into a synergistic individual. Finally the website containing lesson was completed. As overall, the teams were satisfied with their job as well as the supervisory of their team leader. However the lack of supporting from home departments was still remain major issue.


The findings for both case studies almost the same where the results appear the same meaning. In case study 1, Tuckman's model (1977) was used while for case study 2, Tuckman's model (1965) without adjourning stage was applied. Basically, team leader is plays important role in developing an effective team member through team development stages. Table 5 presents comparison with several key elements that engaged in both case studies.

Table 5: Key elements




Motivation level

The project motivated the team members and the team members were developed their skills and applied a leadership roles during the implementation of project.

The team members were inspired and motivated to collaborate with each other.

Timeline pressures

Project schedule issue was emerged due to the decision made by only two team members.

Timeline of the project was questioned by the team members due to the project progressed and deadlines were seldom unmet.

Evaluation and rewards

The team were acknowledged by project sponsor and other executives.

The team felt little support from their colleagues and administrator.

Leadership style

Team leader has encouraged and brought the team together for a face to face meetings on monthly basis

Team leader has created a working environment conducive to collaboration.

Cohesion and interaction

The team members communicate each other via communicating on email, via instant messaging, on Twitter or over the telephone.

Many team members still missed the interaction of face to face meetings. However, the scenario changed slowly as team reached the norming and performing stages.


The team share knowledge with other team members

The team members felt comfortable with others to be honest about their opinions and ideas


It can be concluded that effective team members only can be developed through considerable structure (Lewis, 2007). This structure known as team development stages, where these stages represents the team members are working together, strengths and weaknesses of each team are tested, compliant to the rules and behaviours of the team, working as a unit while working independently and shifting onto other teams (Ruppert, 2009). While developing an effective project team members, the team leader also need to have multiple skills in managing those people in the project management. According to Tan (2004), due to multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional of project management, a good manager is an individual that can wear multiple hats and work in any discipline of development to plug up any shortcomings. For team members, it is necessary for them to fulfil the effective team member characteristic in order to achieve project goals on time and within the budget besides preventing a conflict with others in the same project.