Developing teamwork for intact work groups is challenging enough. But how about when a special group or task force is assembled and time is short? How can a group quickly create effective team dynamics for a short term project?
Amy Edmondson, in her Harvard Business Review article (2012) “Teamwork on the Fly,” calls this “teaming.” And while many aspects of “teaming” are similar to intact work groups, here are things to keep in mind when you are assigned to a short term project with a new group of people:
*Have a Flexible Mindset. This may be a one-time project. It is more like a pick-up basketball game then having an established team for a season or more. You are learning and executing at the same time – which can lead to chaos. Get used to it. You may not have a lot of time to build trust and mutual understanding. This makes constant communication and coordination vital. Strong interpersonal skills among all team members is very important for success. Embrace the unknown!
*Technical Needs. Utilize project management principles. Scope the project out quickly to get clear on deliverables and what skills are needed. Structure roles quickly and make assignments. Sort out the most important tasks and make sure they are sequenced properly. Make sure that someone plays a monitoring role to coordinate all of these activities at the appropriate times.
*Behavioral Needs. Remind one another frequently of the purpose and the shared values you have that are driving the project. Set early ground rules on how you will work together – a modified team charter. Encourage constructive conflict and create psychological safety for all team members to speak up. Embrace failure and force reflection so that there is continuous learning.
“Teaming” – by definition – is even more chaotic that our usual chaotic work life, so be prepared for this when you are a “team on the fly.” The payoff can be a more nimble, creative team that gets great work done and learns a lot in the process.