5 Simple, Yet Important Tips for Managing Project Teams

Sunday, July 19, 2015, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

On a regular basis we are constantly reminded that an overwhelming majority of projects are completed over budget, past the desired deadline and outside the original scope.

You can have great project management processes on your project, but how are your people management skills? Getting buy-in from your team and keeping everyone on the same page is not easy.

5 Tips for Managing Project Teams

However, if you can do these five things really well, your team can thrive.

  1. Over-communicate

    How often have you heard “I didn’t know that” from someone on your team when you know the topic was recently discussed at a meeting you all attended? This is a common occurrence that has been the nemesis of many project managers.

    Take a lesson from product marketers. There is an adage that says someone has to hear something up to seven times before they take action on the message.

    I am not saying that you should communicate each message seven times. However, if the message is important, communicate multiple times in different mediums.

    For example, perhaps a critical message gets communicated by email, text and verbally at a team meeting.

  2. Listen

    Everyone likes to be heard. This is especially true when people are giving their opinions on how to do something.

    It’s important for you to listen intently to everyone on your project team. Does this mean that you will do everything your team suggests? Of course not! That would be impossible as what one person suggests may be in direct conflict with someone else’s suggestion.

    But, it does mean that you have taken the time to listen to someone’s ideas, asked them questions, and then taken the time to explain whether or not their ideas will fit into the big picture of the project.

  3. Stay grounded

    Didn’t you hate it as a kid when you were playing a game and the rules always seemed to change? It is still frustrating to be on a team and the rules seem to change.

    It’s your job as a project manager to create reasonable ground rules and make sure everyone plays by them.

    These reasonable ground rules include what reports are due and when, how disagreements or conflict will be resolved, expectations for individual performance, and when issues need to be escalated.

    One word of caution…keep ground rules to a minimum. You don’t want to overwhelm your team with many team rules.

  4. Adapt

    There are a number of development stages that project teams will go through as they start working together.

    According to the Tuckman model, these are typically categorized as Forming (coming together), Storming (initial conflicts), Norming (things begin to smooth out), and Performing (reaching a high-performing state.)

    To effectively manage a project team it’s important that you understand the behaviors, cares, concerns, and anxieties of team members in each phase and manage accordingly.

    For example, during the Storming phase of group development you will be serving as more of a moderator, facilitator, and possibly even mediator.

    You will be very hands-on and spending an inordinate amount of time with team members as they work through these issues.

    Once they have reached the Performing stage, however, you want to back off and give everyone their room and independence to get their work done with minimal intervention.

  5. Empower

    Here’s a sure-fire way to get people to quit in frustration – give them an important task to do without the proper level of authority to get it done.

    You can inadvertently do this a number of ways.

    The first is by making them check back with you every step of the way to ensure they are making the right decisions.

    This is a morale-killer and screams “I don’t trust you!” The second is to give them a task that is beyond what they can handle themselves at this point in their career.

    You are only setting them up for failure and embarrassment if they don’t have the skills necessary to get the task done.

    Remedy this situation and set them up for success by mentoring them through the process and build up their confidence.

That’s all there is. If you listen to your team, over-communicate, create and stick to clear ground rules, adapt your management style as the team evolves, and empower them to get things done you will find that your project team can’t wait to work with you on the next project you manage.

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This column is © copyright to www.Method123.com and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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