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How to Test Match Co-workers for a Team Project

by Debra Kraft, studioD

Project management processes don't always account for the most critical starting point: Selecting project team members. Who is on the team can make the difference between a successful project, or one that struggles just to get off the ground. If you're a project manager who wants to build a high-quality team, consider doing some preliminary work in testing the collaborative efforts of potential members.

Proof of Concept

A project proof of concept allows a team to test a solution and explore risks before launching a full project. The proof of concept exercise can also provide managers with an opportunity to explore team cohesiveness before making final team assignments. Select proof of concept team members and assign roles and responsibilities based on backgrounds, capabilities, motivational levels and collaboration skills. Throughout the proof of concept stage, monitor and assess how well team members are collaborating, completing tasks and moving the activity forward.

Team Building Exercise

Structure a team building exercise as a lead-in activity before the final project team is formed. Have employees break into small groups to determine innovative solutions to a puzzle or problem. At various stages, rotate members across different groups. The goal is to encourage collaboration with the sharing of information and ideas. Managers can use the opportunity to observe how well employees support and build upon the input of their colleagues.


Identify potential team members based on matching skills to team roles and responsibilities. After that, invite these employees to a series of workshops focused on discussing the project. The meetings should be designed for information gathering and exchanging ideas. These sessions allow project managers to understand team dynamics and how employees engage one another. Look for positive signs of collaboration, as well as warning signs that could lead to unhealthy conflict.

Mentoring and Development

Creating opportunities for mentoring and development allows project managers to test relationships between employees on a rotation basis. As the project team is being defined, consider the personalities of employees and what motivates them. Build upon these motivational factors by pairing senior employees with junior employees. Select team members to remain with the project based on positive experiences.

About the Author

A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.

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