Project Management: DOs and DON’Ts of Managing a Project Team
DO involve the team in decision making
No one expects you to discuss every little detail with your team. You should have a clear vision of how you’d want things to go but taking suggestions and ideas from your team can never be a bad thing. If their thoughts are not on the same track as your goals, explain to them where they are going wrong while painting them the bigger picture. Don’t think of involving your team more in the decision making as losing control. On the contrary, a study found that involving employees in decision making increased productivity, innovation, and employee morale.
DON'T have a meeting just to have a meeting
Never conduct a meeting without an agenda. If you can’t come up with an actual agenda, you don’t need a meeting. By average, employees and managers attend 3.2 meetings per week. The quality of these meetings is evaluated poor in 41.9% of the cases. It’s often because we forget that meetings should be about communication. Your team will enjoy and benefit from meetings that are about solving problems, planning out an action or any other kind of communication that requires your team sitting around a table.
DO use a software for scheduling and planning
Resource planning software will help you to map out your team’s assignments, track project progress and draw your attention to possible problems. If you pick a web-based software, your team can have access to it from any device and the updates you make to the plans will be live the second you make them. You’ll also have a better overview of your teams’ doings.
DON'T get sucked into the blame game
The blame game is a direct descendant of fear - fear of failure, fear of confrontation, fear of being in an uncomfortable situation. And its bitter fruit is what you see when no one is daring to take responsibility and everyone’s just bouncing around the ball of errors until someone that gets tired takes the blame. A better way to fix problems is being open to them. Things go wrong and whether it’s because of a simple human error or technical slip up, everyone will benefit if you as a manager have set up a standard not to blame. Yes, the intern did send out the forms with the wrong dates. Yes, the shipment you have been waiting for and needed yesterday is still delayed. You took a risk with taking on the project in the first place and now it feels like everything is going to south. Whatever it is - the blame game won’t fix it. But you can, if you put your energy into coming up with solutions instead of pushing around the blame.
DO set your team up for success
There’s a lot that you as a project manager can do, to give your team the upper hand. Starting from analyzing the projects that are finished to allocating tasks to your resources that fit their skill set. Learning from your own mistakes is an old mantra but it’s still often forgotten. A project isn’t really finished until you haven’t drawn even the smallest drop of wisdom from it. Take that wisdom and apply it and spread it like butter on the new project you are planning to take on. If there were caps in the communication flow during the last project you were working on, try to understand what went wrong and fix your communication plan according to it. Have goals. Unclear objectives are one of the biggest contributors to failing projects. Make sure that you have enough free resources to complete the project, and whether or not their skills meet the needs of the project.
DON'T make assumptions
Assumption is the mother of all screw ups. It’s that easy. You assume the task you allocated to a resource is completed but its status hasn’t changed in the resource planning software? Ask the one that’s responsible for it. You assume everyone understands their assignments? Don’t assume. Be sure.
DO celebrate small victories
Especially, if your team has invested a lot of time and tortured a lot of brain cells to achieve the small victory. Is figuring out a bug in the software code your project’s goal? Probably not. Is it worth a pat on the shoulder and a sincere “Yay, good job!”? Definitely.
DON'T give out too much information
That rule applies to you personally and to your team. Don’t try to micromanage. Don’t make your team deal with details they don’t need to deal with. It can be hard to find the balance between what’s enough and what’s too much. Map out all the tasks that need to be completed in order to complete the project and allocate resources to those tasks. Set goals and milestones to keep track of the big picture. You don’t have to know every step your team members take to complete their tasks, you just have to have an eye on things that really matter. For managing information for your team, try out a software that offers multiple levels of permissions, and use the feature for your gain. For example, you should hide any resource and task that isn’t connected to theirs. If they are not involved in another project that you are managing, they don’t need to know the details of it.