6 Tips to Building Strong Project Teams

We should be the type of leader whose projects are the first choice when people are given the option.
We should be the type of leader whose projects are the first choice when people are given the option.
We should be the type of leader whose projects are the first choice when people are given the option.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have people lining up to be a part of your project team?  We all know project leaders out there who are great to work for.  You should be one of them.


Strong Project Teams (2)We should be the type of leader whose projects are the first choice when people are given the option.


So how do we become one of those leaders? How do we create project teams the people really want to be a part of? How do we create project teams the people will line up to join?


Strong project teams are where:

  • the project work was really well organized
  • the communication within the project was clear, succinct and timely
  • the meetings were well-run, constructive and a good use of our time
  • everyone was respected on the team both professionally and personally
  • we all learned and grew as professionals while on the project
  • it was fun

So how do we make this work? Here are my six tips for leaders at all levels to build strong project teams.



  1. Create a Team Charter

At the start of every project, take your team off-site or at least away from screens, offices and phones and spend some time on the people side of your project.  The rules are very simple. No talk about the project work, budgets, risk, schedules, stakeholders or any of that stuff. Get to know your team members, review everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, talk about rules of engagement, discuss how you will communicate, talk about the decision-making process and more. The team charter sets the groundwork for every strong project team. Every time I speak to a project audience and ask how many people have ever created a team charter the answer is always less than 5%. This is a huge missed opportunity. This does not have to take long. In fact, just a few hours away will often do the trick.

For more information about the team charter, I posted one of my One Minute Video Series on it just last week –  https://www.davidbarrett.ca/teamcharter/  and I wrote a blog post in 2014 https://www.davidbarrett.ca/kick-projects-team-charter/


  1. Run Better Meetings

if your reputation includes lousy meetings then no one will line up to work with you. Guaranteed. Leaders that run good meetings are great to work for. They do not waste people’s time, they start and end on time, they are efficient, the right people are in attendance and in general we don’t mind being there. I could go on but this is actually an old and continuous theme of mine.  I have blogged twice on the topic (so far!)




  1. Say thank you or how can I help?

People love being on teams where and when they are appreciated. A simple thank you is so easy to do in person, by letter, by email as an announcement to everyone. When we go above and beyond the call for the organization we need to be recognized and the leaders that do this are great to work for.  As well, it’s nice to be offered assistance every once in a while by our senior management and leaders. Work can become very stressful for all of us and often difficult for various reasons. To be offered assistance is also being told you not in this are your own – we are team. So important to building strong project teams.


  1. Do a Regular Project Walk-About

Once again a theme for my past: https://www.davidbarrett.ca/walkabout/

Take some time every week to walk around the office and chat with people.  Not about work – anything else but.  Inquire about recent vacations, follow-up on publicly available information about a family illness, touch base after a prolonged absence from work, talk about the baseball game this past weekend or just say hi. It doesn’t have to take long but it should be scheduled on a regular basis at different dates and times throughout the month and year. And those of us who have poor memories will often record some of the information we discovered during our walkabout so that we can follow up properly later. I often say that this is a science with a little bit of art built in but so worth the time for everyone concerned.


  1. Teach, Coach, Mentor

if your team members come away from your project having grown professionally, your reputation will grow. We all want to learn and expand our knowledge and skills as we look toward the next level and or the next big project. Strong project teams contribute to this and make a point of giving people the opportunity to learn and grow.


  1. Lighten up!

And finally, strong project teams are fun to be a part of. A leader’s job is to make this happen. Whatever it takes to contribute to the laughter, smiles or simply for fun memories.


Strong project teams are not easy to build but these six steps should go a long way to helping you ensure that people will line up to work for you next time.


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