Chapter 4 – Project Team

4.3. Developing Team

The project team works with the project manager to develop the project management plans, schedule the work of the project, acquire the needed resources, monitor project progress and see the project through to its successful completion. Team members may be devoted solely to working on the management aspects of a project or may also be performing the work of the project. How well the project team works together will determine the success or failure of a project.

HR in Focus: Team Development

Human Resources Specialists may work with the Project Manager to help recruit, develop, and monitor the team. In managing projects, HR will want to review the strategic plan first with the team. HR can support the team to get organized in the following ways:

  • Define the purpose of the team and project. The team needs to know the overall purpose and goals. The HR Specialist can help them set goals within the project.
  • Measure the team’s performance. The project manager and the HR Specialist can discuss and establish metrics and reporting of metrics related to performance.  These measurements would be discussed with the team to ensure success. The HR Specialist can help to monitor performance throughout the project.
  • Reward the team. HR Specialists can set up reward systems that are linked to the goals of the project which helps to motivate the team for success.

Team Building Exercises

HR Specialists can help project managers and teams to develop team skills through various activities and exercises. This assists with the development of interpersonal relationships, collaboration and cooperation between the team members, the team and the project manager.

There are many different types of team-building exercises. Some to consider may be:

  • Goal setting: The team, along with the project manager, plan a simple project, with goals and outcomes, measures of success.
  • Role definition: Each team member is given a defined role within a team challenge and plays out the role.
  • Communication exercises: The team designs a presentation and delivers the presentation.
  • Problem solving exercises: The team is given a challenge (i.e., plan a trip into space). They must work together to plan the trip and include all the resources needed to survive the trip.

HR plays a significant role in building team collaboration to positively influence the success of projects.

Team Member Motivation

With regard to how project managers may view the motivation of team members, let’s take a look at what motivates individuals, teams, and organizations.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow provided a model to understand basic human needs which is usually represented as a pyramid (see Figure 4-1). Each need builds on the others: A person’s esteem needs are not that important if they are struggling with meeting the biological need to eat. Here are each of the levels in Maslow’s hierarchy:

  1. Biological and Physiological: What a person needs to survive, such as food, water, and shelter.
  2. Safety: The need to be safe in your person, have financial security, and protection against accidents and illness.
  3. Love and Belongingness: The need to be loved by one’s family and community.
  4. Esteem: The need to be respected and valued by others.
  5. Self-Actualization: At the top of the pyramid is the desire to become the best version of yourself that you can. For example, working hard to become the best artist, parent, or project manager you can become.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs include: self-actualization, esteem, love, safety and biological and physiological needs.
Figure 4‑1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

For project managers, this model is useful in several ways. It explains why team members who have problems with their health, family relations or other “lower” needs, will have a problem performing their best on the job. Project managers will also try to meet the esteem needs of their team members by acknowledging their contributions and celebrating successes. This can be an award formally presented at a celebration dinner, or a simple email expressing thanks. Anecdotally, it doesn’t seem that the size or formality of the acknowledgement matters much, what is important is that it is given sincerely. An in-depth review of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs follows on the next page to understand the deeper meaning of motivation for Human Resources Specialists.

In-depth Look


An In-Depth Review of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological theory that emphasizes the pursuit of various levels of needs in explaining motivation. “A Theory of Human Motivation,” written by Abraham Maslow in 1943, introduced Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy, 2022).

Maslow’s Hierarchy evolved from Maslow’s firsthand observations of the Blackfoot Nation, a highly successful and developed society in which he immersed himself prior to developing his theory. Maslow went to spend time with the Blackfoot and found that his theory of human development had been greatly influenced by their culture. To be more specific, he “imitated liberally” (to keep it mildly) the Blackfoot individuals to strain his psychological theory. Later, the theory was further refined in 1954 by Maslow in his book Motivation and Personality (Safir, 2020). In sociology, management courses, and psychology classes, this theory has remained popular ever since (Maslow’s Hierarchy, 2022).

According to this theory, people are motivated by a hierarchy of needs, starting with basic needs, and then moving on to more advanced needs. The main five points describe this theory, which is most important for human life, such as physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization, respectively. whereas from the bottom of the pyramid, physiological needs come first, safety needs come second, love and belonging come third, esteem comes fourth, and self-actualization comes fifth. Based on its five stages, this model can be divided into two categories (needs): deficiency and growth. It is commonly referred to as deficit needs (needs-D) for the primary 4 steps, and development or being needs (needs-B) for the most elevated steps. Deficit needs are a result of deprivation and are said to persuade individuals when they are deprived of their fulfillment. Moreover, if they are denied for a long time, their motivation will be stronger to fulfil them. For example, a person will become hungrier the longer they go without food (McLeod, 2022).

After a deficiency need is ‘’met,’’ it goes away, and our efforts will at that point be coordinated toward set of needs that we haven’t met yet. Then it transfers to our silent requirements. In any case, once the growth needs have been met, they may even become stronger (McLeod, 2022).

Rather than stemming from a need for something, development needs emerge from a craving to develop as an individual. One could be able to achieve the most elevated level of self-actualization once these growth needs have been satisfactorily met (McLeod, 2022).

In 2010, a psychology group tried to improve Maslow’s hierarchy. In a recent edition of Perspectives on Psychological Sciences, they presented a revised form of the classic pyramid of needs. 3 The initial hierarchy had five levels, 7 levels in the updated version. The suggested new version’s bottom four levels are very similar to Maslow’s. However, the proposed new version’s high levels include significant differences. The elimination of self-actualization—the greatest levels of the original version —was a scandalous adjustment.

 The New Needs Hierarchy

  • Parenting
  • Mate retention
  • Mate acquisition
  • Status/esteem
  • Affiliation
  • Self-protection
  • Immediate physiological necessities.

However, the suggested changes to original Maslow’s hierarchy were met with criticism. Four different discussion pieces on the initial and altered descriptions of the Maslow hierarchy were featured in the journal issue that contained the new hierarchy.

What are the principles on which it is based?

According to Maslow’s physiological, safety, esteem, and self-actualization are the basic 5 requirements that motivate people. People’s behaviors are influenced by the internal force (McLeod, 2022).

  • Physiological needs: Physiological demands are the basic human needs like food, air, water, sleep, clothing, and shelter (McLeod, 2022).
  • Safety needs: People’s feelings of well-being and security, which include personal safety, good health, financial stability, protection from injury and accidents, as well as their negative impact on people’s lives is called safety needs (McLeod, 2022).
  • Social needs: People who have a sense of acceptability and belonging in society have social needs, such as family, friendships, and so on. These are examples of ways people satisfy their social needs to avoid feelings of isolation, loneliness, and so on (McLeod, 2022).
  • Esteem needs: Self-respect is more important than respect from others.
  • Self-actualization needs: Reaching one full potential is called self-actualization. Every person’s self-actualization is different based on the priorities of people (McLeod, 2022).

As the theory’s name suggests, the needs are categorized in a hierarchical order. According to this principle of progression, Needs should be met from the lower part of the pyramid then only they can reach to the next level of the pyramid. If one’s need is fulfilled, it is no longer incentive functions according to the principle of deficit (McLeod, 2022).

Strengths of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The strengths of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are as follows:

  1. Uncomplicated to comprehend

Maslow’s theory is easy to understand and can be related to every people as we will be reached self-actualization starting from the bottom of the hierarchy (Parikh, 2018).

  1. Human Nature is considered.

Although the demand is great, the percentage of demand that is met is low. If a man is hungry and food and a car are given as the choice, he will choose the food first and then demand the automobile. As a result, one may argue that greed is established in human nature, as Maslow’s Theory of Motivation so eloquently demonstrates (Parikh, 2018).

Based on Abraham Maslow’s book, A Theory of Human Motivation, human beings have distinct needs which depict various importance and contribute to the well-being of the need hierarchy of needs pyramid. According to the hierarchy of needs theory, people do not think about their higher needs when their basic needs have not been satisfied, meaning satisfaction is the motivation to achieve more significant needs (Simsek, 2019). However, humans tend not to be satisfied since after one gratifies a market, another takes place in their minds; hence, they constantly move from bottom to top of the hierarchy of needs.

Maslow’s pyramid has helped the project and human resource managers to ensure team members work at the highest level. Through the theory, managers can understand their employees as an individual to ensure their basic needs are met before striving to meet higher needs, which can help in identifying the required action to keep employees motivated. The theory has also helped managers ensure that when creating a team, their basic needs are satisfied first. When encountering motivation issues, they can find out if their basic needs are satisfied; if not, they lay out strategies to meet them (Simsek, 2019).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has contributed significantly to project management and human resource due to its practical values. The theory has been successful in the business field as managers can now have the insight to identify employees’ needs tailoring their management approach and rewards. However, the theory has received various criticisms. One of the major criticisms of the theory is associated with the unscientific approach of the theory. Other researchers, argue that the theory used insufficient samples and the research methods that Abraham used to conclude its effectiveness; for instance, biographical analysis and personal observation were inadequate and lacked sufficient support (Team, 2017).

The criticism indicates that Maslow’s theory of motivation lacks credible empirical and scientific support thus not applicable in most cases. Winter (2016) argues that the Maslow hierarchy lacks partial or little scientific community to validate the theory; hence there lacks clear and consistent support for the available research findings. In addition, the researchers argue that Maslow did not clearly define each need within the hierarchy since measuring satisfaction is difficult.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs makes a lot of sense, especially in project management. However, the theory is supported by minimal evidence for the hierarchical phases. The Phase of self-actualization lacks a precise classification and evidence except anecdotal, making the approach unreliable. Despite the existing gap in and lack of scientific support for Maslow’s theory, the approach is renowned and continues to be applicable, especially in project management.

Project management tends to be based on three major management theories: the dispatching model, management as planning, and the thermostat model. These models are essential to understand in project management; for instance, management as a planning theory has been used widely despite having an implicit view of intentional organizations and continues to be used. Besides, the dispatching model tends to be like the management as planning model but has been more applicable in industrial engineering since the early 20th century (Koskela & Howell, 2002). The thermostat model has been applied more, especially since the 20th century, during the initial stages of project management ideas. The combination of these theories forms a solid management practice used today. These theories were introduced during the initial stages of project management in the 20th century. Still, the approaches tend to be less applicable due to the continuous complexity of project management in the 21st century. Managers and researchers are striving to find new project management strategies, making the initial theories less applicable (Koskela & Howell, 2002).

Implications of the Theory

  1. Financial Incentives

Modern management theories do not stress the importance of money as an incentive to get the best out of individuals. The fact that money is not an end but a means to purchase ends enables it to satisfy both physical and safety needs, the lower-order needs. While money is not important to some people, no matter how much of it they might have, the desire for more money can still motivate many.

  1. NonFinancial Incentives

Non-financial benefits are prioritized over cash rewards to promote psychological and emotional satisfaction.

Some non-financial incentives are as follows:

  • Status — In an organization, the status system is a motivator since it is tremendously essential to most employees. It should be tied closely to the strengths and aspirations of the organization’s employees.
  • Promotion — It is described as a promotion to a post with greater responsibilities and recognition. It depends on one’s ability and performance; if the opportunities for promotion exist, people will strive for them.
  • Responsibilities — When work is meaningful, it accomplishes people’s natural and inherent features, and they put in greater effort to complete it.
  • Making work enjoyable and interesting — This promotes interest in work, and employees treat it as if it were fun.
  • Work Recognition — It entails recognition in the form of an act of appreciation. Employees are driven to perform work at a considerably greater level when they receive such praise for their efforts.

(Employee Motivation, 2009)

  1. Behaviour Modification

Another method for influencing people in an organization is Organizational Behaviour Modification. Organizational Behaviour Modification involves the following steps: —

  • Identification of critical behaviours: This involves steps identifying the behaviours of employees at work that have a notable impact on the employee’s performance.
  • Behaviour measurement: The number of times the identified behaviour occurs is used as a baseline. Baseline measurements are used to provide objective-frequency data on critical behaviors.
  • Functional analysis of behaviour: This involves examining (1) the antecedent cues, or variables that appear to trigger the behaviour, and (2) the repercussions or the consequences that the behaviour has on the individual.
  • Development of intervention strategies: Focus should be on identifying benefits that can be used as positive reinforcements and developing strategies for offering these reinforcements in exchange for subordinates performing the desired critical behaviour.
  • Evaluation of performance to ensure improvement: Such evaluations can be used to determine whether the program should be continued and investigated to develop effectiveness.

(Employee Motivation, 2009)

  1. Empowerment

Empowerment is helping employees by providing them with opportunities, the resources they need to perform their work, authority over their every day jobs, and accountability for their work and behaviours while at work. All these things assist employees to be happy and effective at their workplace.

Steps of empowerment

  1. Identifying the conditions of disempowerment.
  2. Putting empowerment methods and techniques into action.
  3. Eliminating feelings of disempowerment and providing knowledge about self-efficacy.
  4. A sense of empowerment was created.
  5. Empowerment leads to success.

(Employee Motivation, 2009)

Human Resources and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

For Human Resources and Project Managers, understanding and applying Maslow’s Theory of Motivation is essential. The team will stay motivated, and any motivational issues will be rectified with this approach.

Now that we understand the theory, the best approach to put it into practice is to strive to get everyone on your team to work at their best. Human Resources would work with the Project Manager and the team members to help them get to know each other. Knowing the team members personally and seeking to understand their specific needs will help determine what steps are needed to keep them engaged.

The following steps can be taken to enhance the practice by Human Resources:

  • Complete regular surveys to know the needs of the employees as needs always change with time.
  • Use job rotation, job-enrichment, job enlargement, and similar other techniques to remove monotonous from the job.
  • Offer tasks which are challenging but achievable as well.
  • Offer a bit of liberty should be provided to the employees to fulfill their social needs in the organization.
  • Organize functions to introduce the newly recruited employees to the organizational culture.

(Maslow Theory of Motivation, n.d.)

Class of 2022 Contributions: Kirandeep Kaur, Manisha Bhandari, Sabhya Kaushal, Suraksha Thapa

Understanding Team Development

A number of management professionals and academics have studied project team development. Let’s review the model that PMI considers the most valuable in understanding team development created by Bruce Tuckman (1965) who observed that teams go through a series of developmental stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Each stage has predictable characteristics.

  • Forming: The group is brought together for the first time. The team is orienting themselves to the task at hand. At this stage, there may be little agreement on how to approach the project and team members may struggle with understanding the purpose of the project. The project manager needs to provide guidance and direction during this stage.
  • Storming: Team members are trying to figure out their roles in the group. Conflict and power struggles are common, but so is a clearer vision for the group. During this time of intergroup conflict, the project manager needs to provide support and coaching.
  • Norming: At this stage, the team will have developed a consensus regarding roles, processes and approach to the work ahead. The project manager should participate by working as a facilitator for the group.
  • Performing: At this point the group has a clear vision and purpose and is focused on meeting performance goals, project milestones and other benchmarks. The project manager should be able to delegate more and more responsibility to the team, with less supervision.
  • Adjourning: Once the project is completed, the team should collect lessons learned and transition to other projects or roles. The project manager should provide recognition of the work done by the team and help them transition to their next project (provide recommendations, etc.)

A more in-depth look at Tuckman’s Model is discussed in 4.6.

Fast-Tracking Team Development 

Project managers who can quickly move the team from the Forming stage to the Performing stage will have huge advantages in terms of performance. To do this, project managers incorporate team-building activities into the project.  Starting the project with some team-building activities will let the team start to form, resolve interpersonal conflicts and develop norms of behaviour in a low-risk environment.

Unfortunately, some project managers perceive taking time for team building as a waste of time. However, the time invested here pays off with a much more motivated and better-performing team. There are lots of opportunities to incorporate team-building activities into the planning process. Perhaps the most important process a project manager can facilitate is helping team members learn to trust each other.

Human Resources and Team Project Development

The characteristics and behaviours of teams are important to project success.  It is important to choose effective teams that reflect good team compatibility.

Project team compatibility includes: cooperation, conflict resolution, coordination, communication and console
Figure 4-2: Project Team Compatibility

Cooperation: Willing and able to work together for the good of the project. They are willing to share resources, be flexible, accommodate each other’s needs and meet deadlines.

Communication: They are able to relay information clearly and concisely and be good listeners when discussing project goals, outcomes and tasks to be performed.

Coordination: They need to work together on the project to “keep things on track” and integrate each other’s work into the daily outcomes.

Console: They need to maintain positive attitudes and be mentally and psychologically stable; and support each other to be and do the same. They must be able to be empathic, soothe each other, and help each other build self-esteem and self-confidence in the project duties.

Conflict resolution: They need to have the skills to motivate and resolve conflict when it arises. Disagreements are part of any project as each member has different ideas on how to perform tasks in the project. Effective team members can discuss issues, brainstorm ideas for resolve, and continue work in harmony.

Human Resource Specialists are skilled in identifying these compatibility skills and talents. They can support the hiring, along with the Project Manager, to ensure the team members are mutually accountable to each other.