Shifting our team structure has been very challenging but enjoyable. The biggest change that has affected me personally is my new role as project manager for our intern team of 14. In many of my projects as an undergrad, and in all of my projects so far in grad school, I have served a similar role.
Since those teams were small, each person usually was in charge of a general area of tasks. For example, in my collaborative work with the CDC, we had two programmers, a UX Designer and Researcher (myself), and a Visual Designer.
This work with the IBM Design intern team has been especially challenging because each person has a varied skill set. Of course, some people are more specialized than others, but every person is capable of helping with every aspect of the project.
To make sure a project runs smoothly, here are the things I have found key from my own experience:
- Establish a common ground of understanding, trust and respect
- Determine a measure of success for the team
- Keep notes on the team’s progress
- Work together when possible
- Communicate with all team members
These may seem like straightforward keys to accomplish, but think back to projects where a task is given, team members are assigned, and everyone splits up the work and meets up only occasionally. There is no team identity, only the identity that each person brings to the team.
Not all people get along in life, and that’s alright since we all spend our lives as we want with the people we want. But in the workplace, we do not have this luxury and must work together, even if we may not want to be best friends with our coworkers. The first key is difficult to achieve sometimes, which is why the fourth key is so important. By working together when possible, team members can get to know each other better and build that team identity.
I must mention that these keys may not be the first things that come to mind when one thinks of “project management”. Yet the most important thing needed for a project to succeed is a strong team that will work together.