No project runs its course without some project team issues or concerns. Any time you have a group of highly-skilled and highly-focused individuals working closely – yet often individually – on a team working toward a common project goal, you're bound to have conflicts and issues. Usually small, sometimes big. But you will have them – probably on every project to some degree. What I'd like to do here is discuss four tips you can use on each project going forward to help get the most out of the team and therefore also realise the best success and performance on each project you manage. Consider the following...
- Make sure each leads at least one major project task or deliverable. Idle minds will wander...and idle hands are the devil's workshop. You want to try to always keep your project team members busy. They're going to be charging their time somewhere...so you might as well have them assigned to meaningful tasks. But even more than that, if it is at all feasible, have each one lead their own major tasks or deliverables. Expect weekly reporting on that deliverable or on those tasks to the project client – and even to senior management if your project warrants that type of presentation. Don't do it all yourself. The amount of task and project ownership and accountability that you will get out of this will serve you for the rest of the project and make everyone better team members for this and all future projects.
- Engage them one on one monthly during the project. It's tough to make time for individuals when the project is in full swing. Nothing slows your progress down like a team member coming into your office to hide out and just talk. How do you make it clear that your office is not just a refuge or sanctuary for them? Well, don't do it. Use their presence for two goods: One...to get to know them better and discuss their career interests and, two...to get updates on outstanding tasks and possibly to delegate new task assignments to them. It will help team cohesiveness and probably help ensure they don't come hideout in your office as often in the future. Plus, knowing your project team members better individually is always a good idea. Gaining insight into their career aspirations and other things they may be working on at the moment will also serve to help you as there may be other areas of the project where their involvement could help you as a project manager and help them in terms of responsibility and career growth.
- Keep the bar high. Don't settle for less than a full 100 per cent accountability for assigned project tasks. And keep it that way even if you know they are swamped with work outside of your project. Expect the best and the highest cooperation and that's what you'll get. It's like raising your own kids...you wouldn't settle for them...why should you for the quality of the work your own project team produces?
- Don't make major project decisions without full team engagement. There may be some exceptions, periodically, to this rule. But, whenever possible, be sure to include the entire team. You'll have a tighter, more cohesive, involved and accountable team as a result because they are playing some role in every key aspect of the project. Even if ultimately the decision is yours to make, involve and inform the team.
Summary/call for input
These four simple hacks will help you manage your team to better success and cooperation throughout the project engagement. Have high expectations, set those from the beginning, and carry those expectations throughout – even when you're bombarded with issues (especially then) because what you need is consistently high performance and cooperation from your team in order to deliver successfully on the project.
How about our readers? What are your own tips for success on achieving and keeping project team member participation, cooperation and work quality high throughout the project engagement? Please share and discuss.