Making Effective Contributions to Project Teams

The success of a project is largely down to its management. There needs to be a project manager who keeps things on track and ensures that tasks are completed on time and to the appropriate quality.

The reality is, however, that every member of a project team has their role to play. It is the combined effort of the team that determines project success and therefore all members of the team need to understand their roles and responsibilities whether they are in a project management position or not.

Individual team members contribute to the achievement of the project’s objectives. Typically, this involves creating the deliverables and providing insight or knowledge based on their area of expertise.

To contribute effectively to a project, no matter what level you are at, you need to be able to do the following:

Understand the Project’s Objectives

What has the project been set up to achieve? Where are we going and why? If the end-goal is not known or recognised, then the team may find it difficult to focus their efforts or understand the role that their contribution is making to the wider goal. A failure to understand what project success looks like can lead to confusion as well as a duplication of effort.

Recognise your own role

Everyone in a project needs a clearly defined role. All team members need to understand what their own role is and the roles of those around them. The interdependencies of the project activities must also be understood so that individuals see their roles in the wider context, rather than in isolation.

Be willing to work with others

Project work involves collaboration and working with other people. If issues emerge, team members need to feel confident in raising them. People should not feel afraid to offer ideas or alternative approaches where relevant.

Have a critical mind

Asking effective questions and approaching tasks with a critical and enquiring mind is crucial. Too often, assumptions can creep into projects that might lead to things being overlooked. If team members can see a problem emerging, or if they are unsure of something, it is vital that they speak out and don’t just hope that someone else will raise it later.

Learn from Lessons

A diverse project team will bring insights and perspectives from a range of situations, which means that having a collaborative ethos is a must. At the start of a project, it is wise to reflect on the lessons of previous projects. The team members should use their collective experience to look at went right or wrong with previous projects and how these lessons can be applied to the current situation. Organisations that follow a project planning methodology will likely have lessons learnt reports on hand from similar projects. Keeping a lessons log throughout the project is also helpful and team members should input into this during the project lifetime.

In each of the above, communication is key. This applies to everyone in the project team from the project manager down. This involves updating team mates on progress or delays, sharing the most recent developments or changes, and making sure that everyone knows what they are meant to be doing. 

About the author

Nathan is a member of the senior management team at RWA and manages the company’s e-learning, content and professional standards department. He joined RWA as a content writer in 2016, on successfully completing his PhD. Nathan previously worked in the private, public and charitable sectors and has a broad range of experience, including research and analysis, project delivery, corporate governance, and team leadership.

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