Everyone has talents and strengths. Developing Strengths-Based Project Teams integrates common project management and strengths-based talent development language to help you and your project team learn about and become a strengths-based project team.

People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life.

Father of Strengths Psychology Dr. Donald Clifton was a positive psychologist. Instead of focusing on what is “wrong” with people, Dr. Clifton was interested in what is “right” with people. In his research, he interviewed many people, asking them questions about what they liked doing, when they are happiest, and when they are most successful. He discovered that people are happiest and most successful when they can use their strengths every day. Through his research he learned that the foundation for a person’s strengths are their talents – the ways a person naturally thinks, feels, and behaves.

Strengths-based project team has an awareness and appreciation of each team member’s talents and strengths. Team members can then use their individual talents and strengths to intentionally and collaboratively leverage the team’s collective strengths to complete team tasks, address team challenges, and achieve the team’s performance goals. Strengths-based project teams integrate their knowledge, skills, and practice of strengths development with project management tools and techniques, equipping the project team to apply and maximize their collective strengths to successfully complete their project on time, within budget, and according to the project objectives and specifications.

Your team members also have unique talents, which they have developed and have the potential to further develop. Your collective project team’s unique talents combined with their collective project management tools are what equip your team to be successful – to complete the project on time, within budget, and according to the project objectives and specifications.

As your project team members integrate a strengths-based approach into their PM tools, your project team can become a strengths-based project team and create a strengths-based project team culture. A strengths-based project team culture nurtures an environment in which team members can use their talent development tools for the long-term, developing and applying what they naturally do best, resulting in higher project team performance. Most of the time, project teams are temporary: A project team forms, team members work toward and complete their project, and then the project team disperses. At the end of the project, the project team members either go back to their “regular work” or they move on to the next project, the next phase, or the next team. Even when projects occur over multiple years, project team members come and go.

Regardless of how the project team comes together or how long the project team exists, the team needs to get to the “performing” stage quickly, the fourth stage of Bruce Tuckman’s team development model. Tuckman’s model “combines both task-related and people-related activities” in five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. These stages of team development are seen as a linear progression…. As one moves from the forming stage toward the performing stage, team performance and productivity are likely to improve.

Strengths-based project teams have the potential to quickly become high performing project teams. When project team members are investing in strengths development and using common talent language to understand and value each other’s talents, they can get to know each other quickly and work more efficiently together. Therefore, in the forming and storming stages, a strengths-based project team focuses on understanding and appreciating their own and each other’s talents, in order to maximize the team’s ability to collaborate well. Once project team members have a solid foundation in strengths development and understand and appreciate their project team members’ talents, then the project team is ready to articulate and apply their collective strengths to their project in the norming and performing stages. The project team uses their combined PM tools and collective strengths toward their project. The strengths-based project team naturally integrates strengths conversations into their formal and informal meetings toward addressing challenges and more effective planning and decision making. Finally, in the adjourning stage, the strengths-based project team is developing their ability to sustain their strengths-based project team culture and potentially cultivate a strengths-based talent development culture for their future project teams and toward lifelong people development.

In the process of creating a culture for valuing and using strengths, people will further develop. As people use their talents and strengths, they become more adept at using their talents and strengths for further strengths-based development and application. And as strengths-based project teams develop and apply their collective talents and strengths, they will be more likely to successfully achieve their team and organization’s goals.

The benefit in applying your talents and strengths to a project team is that there is no “one set approach.” Projects are unique, project teams are unique, and individuals are unique. Each person discovers, understands, appreciates, articulates, and intentionally applies their talents and strengths in different ways.

People are not born with strengths but develop their strengths over their lifetime. Once a person develops a specific strength, they can then use or leverage that strength toward their tasks, challenges, and goals.

Strengths building begins with your dominant talents, followed by acquiring specific knowledge and skills and investing the knowledge and skills into your dominant talents.

As we apply the basic strengths equation to strengths-based project teams, we can populate the equation with project management specific knowledge, skills, and experience toward developing specific project management strengths. Project team members are continually adding specific project management knowledge and skills to their PM tools. They then use their acquired tools to gain specific project management experiences. The process of acquiring and applying specific project management tools and techniques are maximized when the project team also intentionally invests their project management knowledge, skills, and experiences into their talents for developing specific project management strengths.

The benefits of strengths-based project teams acquiring project management tools and techniques include equipping the team to better encourage and mentor their colleagues in both project management development and strengths development. Acquiring project management tools and techniques also give project team members a solid foundation for participating in further project management training and education to continue to grow (acquire) project management specific knowledge and skills – also a benefit for further strengths development.