In last week’s post on how to manage a project, I shared project management tips related to working with your client. Now let’s talk about how to work with another group of important people – your team!
Working with a team can be fun and challenging. You’ll encounter a mixture of personalities and levels of expertise, and it’s your job to help train them, motivate them and encourage productivity. Enjoy these 10 project management tips to keep in mind when working with a team.
Managing a Team
- Delegate. I used to think that in order to be a good project manager, I needed to know how to do each person’s job as well as they did (or better). This usually led to me trying to do a thousand different jobs, getting bogged down in the details, and losing sight of the big picture. It’s impossible to know how to do everything well. Trust your team to do their individual jobs, and don’t try to do it all yourself.
- Spend plenty of time training your team. Don’t skimp on this, or it will come back to haunt you. If possible, make sure team members receive dedicated, one-on-one attention so they head in the right direction from the beginning. It’s easier if you start out in the right direction than if you get a month into the project and realize a team member has been doing something incorrectly the entire time.
- Communicate with your team. At the start of a new project, communicate your expectations – such as how long it should take them to complete a certain task or stage of the project. Give them feedback on how they’re doing along the way. Meet on a regular basis to discuss issues/questions as a group.
- Don’t overwhelm your team with information. If you send a daily email that is five paragraphs long, your team will stop reading your emails. After the initial training, keep the communication short and sweet. And if there are major or complicated changes, have a face-to-face meeting instead of trying to communicate via email. That way your team can ask questions and receive answers immediately.
- Keep your team involved. Give them regular updates on the progress of the project. Notes like, “We’re halfway through!” and “We’re on track to be finished by January 15!” can be good motivation. Help them keep the end in sight so they don’t flake out.
- Be open to feedback from your team, and don’t be stubborn if something needs to change. Allow room for them to develop their own way of doing the job. What works for you may not work for everyone.
- Have team members report their progress on a regular basis, usually weekly. This will keep you from micro-managing while still giving you the opportunity to know how the project is doing. Furthermore, don’t stop checking in. We all tend to get lazy, and if your team knows nobody will be checking their work, the inevitable will happen. Do random quality checks throughout the project. Don’t get so caught up putting out fires that you overlook the quality of work being completed. If you’re working with contractors, you’ll likely be stuck having to fix the problem yourself, because they will have moved on to another job by the time you notice the problem.
- Encourage group conversation. Our office uses an online project management system that allows team members to post questions to the group and share helpful tips. Often, another team member answers the question before I even see it. This saves a lot of project management time!
- Find a good “right hand” person, someone who can become familiar with (almost) everything you know about the project and step in if extra help is needed. For long projects, this also helps if you plan to take a vacation at some point in the year without needing to check your email every hour.
- Don’t be afraid of confrontation. Sending a mass email saying “remember to spell check” doesn’t usually work. Most people will glance over it and assume you meant it for someone else, not them. If one or two people are continually messing up in a specific area, point it out to them directly instead of being passive-aggressive.
Suzanne Youngblood – Director of Content Marketing