Abraham Maslow theorized that we as humans have a hierarchy of motivation that transcends from getting our basic human needs met to stay alive all the way through self-actualization. As a team of project managers, we see the same kinds of dynamics at play in the hierarchy of what a project team needs. Waddell Group segmented four levels of team quality and identified the qualities of each. Further, we have identified attributes of these stages to enable identification of the level or stage at which your team operates.
The categories of teams are Adequate, Good, Great and Elite. Within each category exist several consistent sub-categories: The level of talent of people you have, how these teams deal with challenges, how risks are dealt with, what kind of manager oversees the project and how they motivate the team.
Project teams all have certain needs: they need people, tools, funding, a communication structure. Without these, no project can get done. With an adequate team you must have enough people and funding to make sure the project gets done. These projects have a project manager who runs the project.
However, these projects face hurdles because of the talent of the team. Adequate teams often get derailed by things like scope creep, unanticipated delays, costs, or quality issues. The product or service meets baseline requirements. Sometimes a superstar dominates team performance which can cover up the shortcomings of other team members or inhibit team members from fully participating.
Adequate teams can be proving grounds for new team members. They will have to learn how to deal with challenges like scope creep, superstars, funding and hurdles. These can be very educational. Team members who can succeed here will move up the hierarchy of teams. Team members who remain here are likely a corporate liability.
Good project teams differentiate themselves from Adequate teams in the level of quality of their team members. These teams have the appropriate level of talent for their project. A sense of teamwork exists which motivates each member to do their best. The Project Manager inspires individual team members to be great in their role on the team. And because of the level of talent and experience on the team, risks are anticipated, and a plan is put in place to manage them.
Good teams get projects done on time and on budget most of the time. While a good team might encounter scope creep, it is usually managed. These teams also have good communication and an Esprit de Corps. And the result of having a good team on a project is that they product a quality product or service.
When you want a project done on time and on budget always, you put together a great team. A great team anticipates challenges because they have the level of experience and talent to know when those will arise. The team is committed to each other and to the team winning and the project manager in place inspires moments of team greatness.
When you have this level of talent on a team, the product or service exceeds the customer’s expectations. The morale of the team is heightened because of their ability and enjoyment of working at that level. Challenges are embraced by the team to grow and learn.
Members of Elite Teams tend to get scooped up to lead other teams. But when they are allowed to exist the company wins because that is what the team members are committed to. These teams anticipate and embrace challenges. And the project manager inspires continuous team greatness.
Because of this, these teams execute at a level other teams seek to imitate. These teams are in high demand because of their rarity.
Team members have a better work life – and quality of life in general – when their projects are meeting milestones and communication is really working. Companies benefit from the improved ROI on their teams’ output as well.