Ten Key Principles

Now that we have a better sense for what a high-performing team looks like, let's review 10 key management principles that are paramount to our efforts to guide our team's performance.

  1. Adapt management style While as a rule, a collaborative, servant-leadership management approach to leading project teams will be the most effective in most situations, you may need to adjust your style depending upon the project phase, the needs of your particular team, and the project environment.
  2. Get the right people Whenever possible, personally select the members of your core team. You should have the best understanding of the skills, abilities, and behaviors that are needed for project success. In particular, get people who have a track record of success. As any successful project manager will attest, having the right people is 80% of the battle. Of course, in the real world, you don't always have this luxury, and we'll talk about that in the "Special Situations" section.
  3. Plan as a team A major component of modern-day project management is the idea that planning is a team activity. This was a heavy emphasis in our planning chapters. Why is this key? If the team develops the project plan, it becomes "their" plan and "their" schedule. With this, comes a much higher level of commitment, buy-in, and accountability, and much less time spent battling the issues you get when this is not present.
  4. Keep the team focused One of the most important things a project manager can do is to make sure each team member is simultaneously crystal clear on the "big picture" of the project (mission, objectives, priorities) on one hand and focused on his/her immediate task on the other. To focus, not only must each team member have clear work assignments and roles, but the project manager needs to be an "umbrella." As an umbrella, you protect the team from the politics, noise, and other factors that distract them and slow their progress.
  5. Set clear expectations To encourage maximum team productivity, nothing is more important than making sure each team member understands what is expected from them in advance. This applies to both work assignments and team protocols. A key aspect of this expectation setting activity is to review the completion criteria for any work assignment up front. This step alone will go a long way to avoiding rework and increasing productivity.
  6. Facilitate productivity Continuing our productivity theme, the focus of the project manager should be on doing everything he/she can to enable each team member to be as productive as he/she can possibly be. What does this mean? It means the following:

    • Ensure work assignments are clear and understood
    • Provide all resources that are needed to accomplish the work in a timely fashion
    • Facilitate resolution to any issue impeding work assignment completion
    • Anticipate issues that may impact work productivity and take action to mitigate or prevent them (risk management at the work task level)
  7. Improve marketability A key goal I have for every person on my team is to improve their marketability through their experiences on the project. In the end, the only real job security we have is to always be "marketable"and to continuously improve our marketability. Look for ways to improve skills, build résumés, and to help each person make progress on their career goals. This mindset is key to both how you assign and "sell" work tasks. Personally, I like to find out who desires to become project managers or gain project management skills, and then assign roles and responsibilities throughout the project to facilitate this marketable growth.
  8. Leverage individual strengths An extension of the previous principle, this one has three primary components:

    • Look for the strengths that each person brings to the table, but understand their weaknesses. This approach will keep you positive and is especially important when you have not personally selected your team or when you have given a team member with a "reputation."
    • Understand what drives each person, their motivators, what they care about. Not only will this help you position people to better, but it will also enable you to reward and recognize them more effectively too.
    • Align project roles and responsibilities with each team member's "sweet spot" as much as possible. The "sweet spot" is the combination of natural strengths and personal motivators.
  9. Recognize and reward This principle has three primary aspects:

    • PR Agent Pretend you are the public relations agent for each one of your team members. In addition to providing timely feedback and appreciation to each person personally, make sure the "right people" (especially the people who influence their career advancements and compensation) know about the excellent work your team members are doing throughout the project. Don't wait to do all of this at the end of the project or at annual review time; it will be much more effective and meaningful if it is communicated as it happens.
    • Celebrate Take the time and make plans to celebrate interim milestones along the way. This forces you to acknowledge the efforts to-date and helps to build team momentum.
    • Rewards Two key items here: One, look for ways during initial project planning and throughout the project that will allow the team members to share in the rewards (profits) if the project accomplishes certain goals. Two, if the project team or specific team members are asked to perform heroic efforts, set up an incentive that will both reward and acknowledge the special efforts.
  10. Facilitate team synergy Especially early on the project, use methods to help build the cohesiveness of the team. Most teams naturally go through the traditional "forming, norming, storming, and performing" stages, but there are things you can do to be a positive influence on this process. Depending upon how much the given project team has worked together before and where they are physically located, the specifics will differ, but as a guide, you want to focus on the following:

    • Build relationships Set up team-building outings, team lunches, team meetings, and so on that will enable relationships to begin and grow.
    • Setup team procedures Determine what rules, guidelines, and protocols are needed to help establish team productivity (such as modes of communication, core hours, standard meeting times, work standards, work processes, administrative procedures).
    • See progress Structure the project approach so that the team can get some early, visible progress. Not only will this create enthusiasm for the stakeholders, but it will do the same for the core team's efforts too. In addition, track the team's progress and accomplishments in a very visible fashion. This also helps build enthusiasm, but also encourages pride and accountability in project efforts.

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

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