Project teams perform like a Premiership team

After watching sporting teams playing in the finals (and ultimately the Grand Final) I realised that there is a strong connection between these high performing teams and project teams that perform well and succeed.  How you may ask?

A Project Manager (PM) needs to operate just like a team coach does.

A PM needs to be like a team coach and:

  • Give players (aka project team members) roles, with expectations and a clear focus and vision for what success will look like.
  • Mentor and assist the team members so that delivery is the key outcome.  This is exactly what a team coach does in ‘coaching’ his team members in order to win a premiership.
  • Mentor those with the skills to deliver to get them to perform at their best.  He will assist those with skills that need strengthening, so that they can still deliver.  The focus is ALWAYS on team work.
  • Communicate clearly to the team what the desired outcomes are, so that everyone knows exactly what the end goal will look like and the path to getting there.

Project team members must work together

Team members all with different skills work closely together and the only way that they (the team) become successful in winning the premiership is to work as one team.

  • Team members understand the strengths and weaknesses of each other and manage those
  • Team members take responsibility for their part in the ‘game’ (the project delivery in our instance)
  • Team members support each other and back each other up, when needed
  • Other players are available with skills and abilities to step in when needed to ‘cover’ for someone who can’t be a part of the team due to injury or fatigue

There is other support available

There are support staff that work closely with these elite sporting teams – the assistant coaches, and the fitness staff.  These people are the equivalent of Stream Leads, or Subject Matter Experts, who have skills and knowledge in areas that the project team don’t and they provide support by supplying the knowledge and key information when it is needed.


The key aim for the AFL team is to ‘kick goals’.  How does a project team kick goals?  By delivering each stage of the project on time, on budget, and to the highest quality standard possible.


Written by Karen Munro