Proven Techniques

With these principles as our foundation, let's take a look at a few proven techniques that generally lead to better project team performance:

  • Conduct team kickoffs Conduct separate kickoff meetings with your core team at the beginning of each phase. This is an excellent way to reset expectations on project context, project goals and priorities, team member roles and responsibilities, team member assignments, project schedule, and team procedures.


    Utilize mini-kickoff meetings at the beginning of each project phase, not just the start of the entire project, to reset expectations.

  • Collocate This is not always possible, and it is becoming more uncommon as project work becomes increasingly distributed. However, results speak for themselves. When project team members are physically located in the same area, it is much easier to build relationships, share ideas and experiences, develop answers to problems, and increase team synergy.
  • Use meeting time wisely To communicate both respect and value for individual's time, and to help team productivity, have a definite purpose or need for any team meeting and confirm that this purpose is understood by all team members. At a minimum, conduct a general team status meeting each week to share knowledge and lessons learned, and to provide gentle peer pressure accountability. The need for formal meetings will vary depending upon how the team is naturally collaborating, the composition of the team, team productivity, and on the list of outstanding issues.
  • Develop Team Charter To align individual expectations with desired team behaviors, develop a team charter that defines the guidelines, procedures, and principles by which the team will operate. The emphasis point here is not whether or not you take the time to document this, but it is the act of working with the team to develop these guidelines and procedures. This way, much like the overall project plan and schedule, it becomes theirs.
  • Set standards Especially on projects where multiple individuals may be doing the same type of work or when work will be outsourced, develop and communicate the standards the work must meet to be accepted. This helps clarify expectations, reduces re-work activity, improves quality, and leverages expert knowledge.
  • Leverage expertise This is an invaluable method to improve team performance and to improve the skills of multiple individuals. Especially in cases where the project involves newer technologies, the primary resource pools do not have adequate skill levels, or the organization needs to avoid allocating their most senior, sought-after talent on a single project.
  • Resolve conflicts right away High-performing teams do not let intra-team conflicts or project issues linger, because if they do, they can adversely effect team productivity. As the project manager, you need to facilitate resolutions quickly. This does not mean that you do not listen and make rash judgments. It means that you "deal with it"don't avoid it. In all cases, it is very important that you stay objective, treat all sides with respect, place your focus on potential solutions, and seek out win-win scenarios.
  • Prepare for client interactions To better manage client expectations and to avoid unproductive issues, prepare the team for direct client interactions. Make sure they understand the project from the client's perspective, the expectation the client has of the team's abilities, specific actions to take if they need assistance when they are with the client, and any talking points to either avoid or emphasize.
  • Set up project repository To help facilitate team productivity, share knowledge, and protect project assets, set up a common repository that is accessible by all core team members to store project work products and project management deliverables. We discussed this in greater detail in Chapter 12, "Managing Project Deliverables."
  • Develop team rituals To help build team unity, develop specific rituals that engage the entire team. Examples include going out to lunch together on a certain day each week, sharing breakfast together on a certain day each week, celebrating individual birthdays or anniversaries, and so forth.
  • Effective task assignments We've talked about this one in various ways many times already, but the point I want to emphasize here is that you can't just assume a task assignment is understood and will be done because it appears on the schedule and there is a person's name beside it. The keys here are the following:

    • Instill a sense of ownership on assigned tasks. Look for modules or domains that specific people can have lead responsibility over.
    • Verify that the person assigned the work is clear on task completion criteria. This will avoid the need to micro-manage your team. (Since I'm naturally lazy, this is an important one for me.)
    • Ensure that one person is primarily responsible for a task and that you have buy-in on that responsibility.
    • Ensure that the level of schedule detail is appropriate to effectively assign and monitor work.
  • Plan for orientation For any new team member joining your project, there is an introductory orientation period. Your goal is to streamline this period and to have each team member at maximum productivity as soon as possible. The four specific actions I employ are

    • Protect your schedule Do not assume the new team member will be 100% productive on day one. The length of the ramp-up period will be specific to project, work assignments, and previous work experiences.
    • Prepare an orientation packet Put yourself in the new team member's shoes and think about what you need to know in order to get a solid understanding of the project environment.
    • Setup work environment in advance In any project environment, where team members need specific equipment, tools, access privileges to do their work, do whatever you can to get this set up before the team member starts. If you can't, account for this in your schedule.
    • Invest the time up-front Plan on spending time with any new team member up front. By investing focused attention with any new team member, you can better communicate your energy for the project and the expectations for the project, their role, and their contributions. As an avid follower of the Pareto principle, this is a clear case where spending a little extra time up-front will avoid the need to spend a lot more time on down the road on team productivity issues.
  • Plug-in To help facilitate the performance team, you must stay connected with the team. Keys here are to stay visible, use the same communication channels the team is using, take time to meet with each team member one-on-one, and make sure the team knows you are there to help them be productive.
  • Share leadership responsibilities To help team members develop leadership skills and to help build commitment to the project, look for opportunities to share leadership responsibilities. This is natural on larger and cross-functional projects.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169 © 2008-2020.
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