Managing a team well is crucial to effectively bringing in your projects on-time and within budget. Experienced project managers know that the human element of project management is every bit as important as more technical elements such as preparing a budget and deciphering progress reports. The following tips and techniques are designed to help you manage teams effectively and boost your performance as a project manager.
Collaborate on Task Definition
Don’t take the risk of defining tasks yourself without getting buy-in from other members of the team. Taking this approach can lead to confusion about objectives and suboptimal results. Bring your team together and go over upcoming tasks to get their feedback as to which tasks should be worked on and in what order. Sharing the overall project objectives with your team is important to ensure that they have the full picture before they provide input on task prioritization.
Taking a collaborative approach also enhances your ability to delegate authority and assignments to team members. Because they were consulted on selecting and defining project tasks, they are more likely to take ownership of the tasks and complete them as efficiently as possible. Getting insight from team members as to the details of what should be involved in completing a task also helps when it comes to selecting who should work on a particular task. You can use this insight to assign tasks to the team members who demonstrate the greatest knowledge of what it will take to satisfactorily complete the task.
Determine in Advance What Success Will Look Like
Defining what a project’s objectives are – what success will look like – in advance is essential to effectively managing a team. If your team members are unsure of the project’s goals, it can make managing them more difficult than it needs to be. Without clear objectives, they may spin their wheels, wasting time and money and hurting team morale.
Confusion about project goals also makes it more difficult to delegate authority and assign tasks to your team members. The risk is that without clearly defined goals, team members may be working at cross purposes by pursuing different goals. Specifying what success will look like doesn’t mean you need to provide advance breakdowns of the results expected of every single task – these details can be furnished during project implementation. Instead, if means that the expected result of project completion is clearly identified to anchor expectations and provide a guidepost for measuring project progress.
Waiting until a project starts to define success can also result in mission creep, where more and more tasks are added to your to-do list, making it difficult to complete the project on time and within budget. You also run the risk of shifting goal posts, where the lack of clearly defined metrics for success results in the project being expected to accomplish more than is feasible given the resources devoted to it.
Explain Big Picture Objectives
To gain comprehensive buy-in from your team it is vital to explain the project’s overarching goals to them. Doing so helps convince them that completing their tasks is not just necessary as part of their job, but also as part of bringing the project as a whole to completion.
If team members become excessively focused on completing individual tasks as opposed to making progress on the overall project, it can delay project completion. This can occur, for example, if team members take their time completing an aspect of the project without realizing the impact their actions are having on the progress of the project as a whole.
Sharing the macro objectives with your team members helps boost their commitment to achieving those goals, as opposed to an attitude that sees them simply counting the hours until the workday is done. By letting them know that their efforts have a positive effect on project completion, you can appeal to the natural human desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
Acknowledge All Contributions
Recognizing the hard work your team puts into project-related tasks is important to maintaining team morale and improving your chances of successfully managing a project. Don’t wait until project or task completion to let team members know you appreciate their efforts. Instead, be proactive and encourage them by acknowledging their efforts even before a task is finished. This positive feedback can have beneficial effects throughout the project lifecycle.
Select Team Members Carefully
While managing your team productively is a big part of project management, the composition of the team is also important. To the extent you are able, make sure that you give serious thought to the makeup of your team. Choose team members who are willing to work together collaboratively to achieve a common goal. You should also look for members with complementary skills to improve the depth of your team’s skillset. Given how important communication is to project management, look for individuals who are willing to share their thoughts on project strategy and tactics.
Let Team Members Do Their Jobs
Many project managers possess a broad skillset enabling them to work on many different project tasks themselves. However, before pitching in and completing a task yourself, or working alongside a team member, consider whether this is the best use of your time. Your main responsibility as a project manager is to complete a project as efficiently as possible. If you are spending too much time working on individual tasks and not enough time providing team members with guidance it can negatively impact the project.
Take a step back and focus on what is best for the project overall. This often means letting team members do their jobs and only stepping in yourself on a task when absolutely necessary. Not only is this approach likely to be a better use of your time, it also helps you avoid micromanaging team members, which is often counterproductive. In addition to potentially slowing down your team members’ progress on tasks, micromanaging can give them the impression that you don’t trust them enough to let them work on a task by themselves. This can hurt team morale, which can impede project performance.
Nuvro is a robust online project management tool that helps you manage your team and effectively bringing in your projects on-time and within budget. With Nuvro you can gain control and peace of mind over all of your projects, tasks, team members, workload and everything else important to your company. In addition to the project, task and collaboration features found in most PM tools, Nuvro also provides a company dashboard, a team dashboard, team member performance reviews, secure document management, an internal alternative to email and more. Nuvro is perfect for busy teams looking to accomplish more. Learn More…