6-6-Build a Team

Step 5: Build a Team

Determine the team and provide them with what they need to be successful.

Determine team composition

The agency will likely have mobilized a group of individuals during the earlier steps to develop scope, build a vision, select and develop strategies, and draft the action plan. This step is about building the tactical team that will perform the individual tasks to implement the vision for capability-building.

Why form a team to implement the action plan? There are several critical benefits of establishing an implementation team:

• Improved collaboration across organizational boundaries compared with simply assigning tasks
• Improved communication to increase efficiency of handoffs throughout implementation
• Shared vision of success and accountability for results

This step engages and coordinates all staff (and partners, if applicable) who will be conducting the actions, as well as assigning a lead to shepherd the initiative through the final two steps.

Note that the timing and details of this step are somewhat flexible. It is up to the agency when to form the actual team. It is possible and advisable in cases where a cross-functional team is required to begin this step earlier.

Assign team roles

Clarity around roles is a critical success factor for teams. Teams need people to lead the effort, provide logistical support, contribute expert advice and carry out the implementation steps. These roles are distinct from the roles each individual plays within their assigned job duties.

Without clear roles, initiatives are at greater risk of failure because team members may be working simultaneously on the same activities, steps may be forgotten, and the focus of the initiative may be lost. Ambiguities also cause frustration for team members and compromise the development of effective team collaboration.

Following is a summary of common team and individual member roles:

• The team sponsor provides leadership support and removes barriers to the team’s success.
• The team lead is the single point of contact for the overall effort, including clarity around goals and actions.
• The project manager provides management of the project plan and timelines and tracks day-today progress.
• The team member is typically included on the team based on their area expertise or the balanced perspective they bring to the project.

This list is not exhaustive. Some initiatives are fairly simple and may involve one person serving several roles, such as team lead and project manager. Other teams require specialized skills, such as IT testing expertise or specialized communication or change management skills.

Team roles evolve over the lifecycle of the project. For example, the team sponsor may be called upon early in the project to help the team lead clarify and communicate the scope and vision. Later, they may be called upon to remove barriers to scaling an initiative or communicating the results to other executives within the agency. A team lead’s role will also change as the team members work to complete their individual assignments and also grow together as a team.

Provide resources

A common failure mode of project teams is lack of leadership support. This step provides the team with the resources and empowerment they need to be successful, particularly those things that require leadership to remove barriers, including:

• Time and permission to work on the initiative
• Vocal support, coaching and direction, if needed, by leadership
• Financial resources, if needed
• Tools, such as software
• Data and analysis support needed for performance measurement

It is up to the agency and the specific situation who needs to be on board to support and energize the team as they embark on the effort and throughout the implementation. In low risk situations, they should be given as much independence as possible within clear boundaries; when the initiative is higher risk, leadership may need to play a more active oversight role.

Develop an elevator speech

It is important for everyone participating in effort to feel like they know why they are participating and that the effort is worthy of pulling them away from their “day jobs.” Creating an “elevator speech” for team members and leadership alike ensures everyone knows and can communicate the vision for the plan in brief, including:

• why it’s important,
• what it will entail,
• how it will enhance capabilities, and
• how it adds value to the agency and its customers.

An effective elevator speech should be concise, clear and inspire listeners. It is linked to but distinct from the change management strategy described below in that its purpose is as much about motivating the project team and supporting leadership as it is about garnering support from those outside of the process.

Develop change management strategy

There is ample literature available on the topic of change management, and the variety of formats for state DOTs to use is endless. We provide several resources in the bibliography for those wishing to explore this topic in further detail.

The key components that should be included in any change management plan for capability-building include:

• Articulating the change forces or other context around the need to implement capability-building strategies
• Understanding where the agency is culturally in their ability to change
• Creating a change management team to collaborate with the implementation team and leadership on the change
• Developing communication and outreach around the change
• Removing barriers and mitigating risks associated with the change
• Executing the change management strategy
• Evaluating the change and capturing lessons learned

A simple change management roadmap is included to assist agencies in the preparing for, manage and support their capability-building change effort. The guidebook also includes a list of items that should be included in a team charter. This list includes team names and roles, project objectives, success factors and additional project resources that should be made available to team members.

Figure 6.2. Change Management Roadmap

Figure 6.3. Team Charter

Step 5 Checklist
Determine team composition
• Who should lead?
• Who should be involved?
• Who should be informed?
Determine Team Roles
• Have we defined and documented which role(s) will each team member play?
• Have we provided clarity to members on their team and individual roles?
• Do team members know the team and individual responsibilities associated with their roles?
Provide resources
• What resources does the team need - financial, tools, data, etc., and how can we help them get them?
• How can we free up their time to work on this?
• How can leadership help support the team?
Develop elevator speech
• What is our elevator speech for the project team and leadership?
Determine change management strategy
• Have we articulated change forces, needs, strategies and capabilities to be built?
• Do we know the agency's readiness for change?
• Do we have a team in place to facilitate change?
• Do we have a communication plan?
• Do we have a barrier/risk management plan?
• Do we know how to execute the change management?
• How will we capture lessons learned?
Complete Step 5 – Build a Team