Document Detail

Title: RS134-1 - Identifying Success Factors for High Performance Project Teams
Publication Date: 5/1/1999
Product Type: Research Summary
Status: Supporting Product
Pages: 27
Discusses in detail what the research found with regard to high performance work teams. Stresses the importance of team leadership and effective leader behavior; contains extensive appendices on research data.
Order Now  


In the competitive world of construction, project teams have the specific goals of reducing project costs and schedules. Studies of performances by project teams in other industries indicate that one method of reducing cost and schedule growth is to establish high performance work teams in planning and execution. Those studies indicate that common characteristics can be found that differentiate highly effective teams from less effective teams.

CII, in its attempts to improve the engineering and construction industry, believes that project teams must go beyond simply implementing best practices. CII therefore established the High Performance Work Teams Research Team to: (1) identify common characteristics of high performance work teams in construction, and (2) to establish metrics that will help the industry realize the benefits of having project teams that achieve high performance. The research was to focus on reductions in cost and schedule that can be attributed to the high performance of project teams. “High performance” was defined by the majority of survey respondents as being 10 percent or better performance against established targets for cost, schedule, safety, customer satisfaction, and rework, where the targets had already been aggressively set.

This research team found two significant predictors of reducing cost growth: (1) leader behavior and (2) the use of selected CII best practices. Specific findings from the High Performance Project Team research include the following:

  • Projects whose leaders engaged in effective leader behaviors experience reduced cost growth.
  • Projects that use the CII best practices of scope management and project alignment experience reduced cost growth.
  • Projects that use the CII best practices of planning and project controls experience reduced schedule growth.
  • No strong association exists between team member characteristics and project high performance.
  • An apparent “trade off” occurs between cost and schedule in achieving high performance targets. That is, a project team may achieve reductions in cost or schedule, but rarely both, even in a high performance environment.
  • Formal team building, in the absence of effective, consistent project leadership behaviors, is not a predictor of “high performance.”

The most significant finding of the work was the importance of leader behavior on project performance. Effective leader behavior, especially when combined with CII best practices and appropriate member characteristics, will greatly enhance the probability that project teams will achieve breakthrough results. The results of that effort led the research team to publish CII Implementation Resource 134-2, Tools for Effective Project Team Leadership. This tool kit contains guides on leadership selection and planning and a high performance work team checklist. The handbook also contains a tool to measure the effectiveness of high performance teams.