Term Paper: Managing a Project Team. The Information Contained

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¶ … managing a project team. The information contained in this reading explained the many different qualities that must be considered while putting together a formidable team that can accomplish specific and direct tasks that lead to a larger vision of success. This chapter was highlighted by several key ideas. The Five- Stage Team Development Model, was presented to help provide a template to guide project managers in their quest for success. Other aspects of project team challenges were also noted such as building high-performance teas, managing virtual project teams and advice on avoiding project team mistakes and pitfalls.

Larson & Gray (2011) preface this chapter on team success with the term synergy. They defined the term as " working together." Synergy is a quality of teamwork that sets the whole on a level with sum of its parts. Synergy could be either positive or negative depending on the result. Essentially, synergy is the magic word that makes teamwork a viable option within the project management world. The rest of this chapter is based on this idea as new ways to maximize positive synergy are mentioned throughout the chapter.

To highlight this approach the author's presented some ideas on how to encourage synergy within a project team. The Five Stage Development model explained how groups tend to form into teams and how these divisions are important in the evolution and growth of success. The five stages include; forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Other ideas about routine practices of teams are also mentioned such as conducting meetings and establishing a team identity and vision.

The important aspect of group conflict is addressed by the authors in Chapter 11. Conflict, like synergy, is divided in to positive and negative aspects where some conflict in the right circumstances is a very positive thing. The authors made it clear that managing conflict is an extremely integral part of management and needs to be addressed in some fashion or another. They wrote " project managers establish the foundation for functional conflict by establishing clear roles and responsibilities, developing common goals or a shared vision, and using group incentives that reward collaboration, " (p. 399).

Chapter 11 concluded with some warnings about common pitfalls that project managers often fall into. After discussing the challenges of managing virtual teams, the authors warn about groups falling into groupthink and other distractions that lessen the effectiveness of the project itself. To alleviate this problem tips are offered to help with this problems such as keeping team members informed and establishing codes and rules of conduct to avoid delays.

Real World Situation

The information contained within chapter 11 is very general but is very helpful in offering guidance and encouragement to project managers who will no doubt experience many of the problems discussed in this chapter. To help illuminate this idea, the idea of groupthink was mentioned by the authors as a dangerous and limiting phenomenon that weakens the strength of the group. The authors discussed the illusions of invulnerability that allows groupthink to grow and thrive. As a result critical thinking vanishes and negative stereotypes of foreign ideas and people usually result.

Groupthink happens all the time with teams who are too insulated and do not see the outside picture. Too often the hubris of leadership steers the project into the wrong direction and failure becomes imminent. The alluring power of being part of the group does not always work out well when trying to determine new ways to fix problems and come up with novel solutions. Groupthink is a threat to all groups who remain complacent in their efforts and useful information is suppressed due to emotional or political tendencies.

Reflection on Learning

This chapter is helpful in providing some useful information on the practical aspects of leading or managing a project team. The general advice given in this chapter suggests that many problems await the project manager, however many tools are available to assist in this process. The idea of synergy is key in this chapter as it lays down the ground work of the inner mechanics of a project team and the dynamics of how it may or may not act. The varying models and examples contained in this chapter are also useful in driving certain ideas home and providing some context to the instructions.

Chapter 13

Explanation and Description

Just conducting project management operations is not enough to ensure success and provide a path to the objectives at hand. Chapter 13 revealed that progress and performance measurement are extremely important steps within this process. This chapter was dedicated to inflect the need for control within a project as it " is one of the most neglected areas of project management, " (p.453). The authors presented both the typical problems in this area of project management and offered solutions to help combat these occurrences.

Data and information are highlighted as important tools that can help managers glean critical insight towards the status of project. What is most important however when using data, according to authors, is that the proper questions are formed and the data is understood in the context of the question. By asking such questions as when the project will be completed, costs, overruns and any other contingencies, a model is created that prevents key and critical data from being ignored.

The Project Control Process was offered as a suitable means for measuring and evaluating project performance. This process was laid out in four steps: Set a baseline plan, measure progress and performance, compare plan against actual and take action. Visual descriptions of the relationships for the desired data are encouraged and help make sense of some of the more complex and sophisticated interactions between data and information.

This chapter also offers guidance for project managers on how to develop status reports and actually utilize the information that has been processed in the earlier stages of the control process. Within this analysis the idea of baseline changes was presented to help distinguish time periods where change is more necessary than other times. The emphasis on clearly defining goals and objectives was important to the message delivered in this chapter. The authors wrote " careful project definition can be changes that result in cost overruns, late schedules, low morale and loss of control. Careful project definitions can minimize the need for changes, " (p.477). The onus is still not removed from the human leadership aspect of the project, as project managers must monitor and check how these changes can affect the outcome, and decisions are still needed to be made in order for an acceptable result.

The downside of data acquisition within the monitoring process is also discussed to add balance to the argument. Data acquisition can be costly, messy and hard to interpret without the proper perspective. Project managers are tempted to rely too heavily on some of the numerical which may cause problems when working with humans. Data overload also contributes to this problem as too much data can confuse and distract from some of the more important aspects of the project. The importance of aligning strategy with the overall objectives of the project becomes even more glaring when data complicates the problem.

Real World Situation

Statistical information holds great potential for project managers who are willing to include these ideas in a balanced and appropriate form. Technology today has created a data fetish that encourages leaders to look at nothing but numbers. This approach is equally wrong as ignoring all statistical performance data.

This approach is seen in professional sports where every statistical category is created and evaluated to find certain matchups that are favorable to a team's performance. Baseball pitchers are carefully selected to pitch against certain threatening hitters to lessen the chance of failure. Like a baseball manager, making… [END OF PREVIEW]

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