Keeping a project management team running smoothly can be a challenge, especially when budgets are lean and expectations are high. Every manager needs to figure out the best way to lead and motivate, but a few baseline principles will keep you pointed down the right path.
1 – Know your role. While you may be the leader of the group, your primary concern must be the group itself. Even if you’re a hands-on manager, remember you’re also there to coach, evaluate, and mentor. Make time to attend to each of these areas regularly.
2 – Understand the value of your employees. You can’t accomplish your team’s objectives by yourself, so work hard to help your employees do their jobs. Remove obstacles, work through glitches, and fight for the resources your employees need to achieve success.
3 – Keep fairness in mind. Avoid playing favorites or putting your own ambitions above those of your team, because people are quick to sniff out words and actions that are unfair or self-serving. You’ll still need to make unpopular decisions from time to time, but you’ll retain your team’s respect.
4 – Treat your employees like adults. Few things undermine respect and enthusiasm as quickly as being criticized, disciplined, or embarrassed in public. Allow employees the courtesy of carrying out sensitive discussions in private, give them the benefit of the doubt when mistakes occur, and never lose sight of their individual career goals.
5 – Look for each member’s strengths and leverage them. By utilizing an employee’s natural strengths to their full potential, you’ll not only allow the employee to feel a tremendous sense of value and accomplishment, you’ll also be giving your team the benefit of those skills.
6 – Encourage success. When an employee accomplishes a tough goal or really pulls out a win, seize on it. Let the rest of the team know about the accomplishment, look for other ways to repeat the success on future projects, and keep an eye out for opportunities that would allow the employee to help mentor others to achieve similar results.
7 – Give prompt, direct, and useful feedback. Without it, your employees will become frustrated that their efforts aren’t paying off, and you’ll be equally exasperated because your team isn’t reaching its potential.
8 – Focus on long-term success. Don’t expect employees to learn new skills, modify behaviors, or improve their performance overnight. Instead, work on small changes here and there, and you’ll find solid long-term results.
9 – Use mistakes as a learning tool. Once you’ve worked with the team to correct an error, shift your focus to helping them understand how the mistake occurred, what signposts they missed originally, and how they can avoid repeating the same mistake later.
10 – Realize that you aren’t an expert in everything. If you have a team member with more expertise in a particular area, don’t try to hide or mitigate it—celebrate it! Successful teams combine each member’s specific talents into a high-performing whole, and any ego or insecurities you bring to the table will only undermine that.
11 – Delegate, and then get out of the way. By stepping back and allowing your employees to do their jobs, you’ll instill in them greater confidence and a higher degree of accountability. You’ll also be supporting their efforts to increase their skills sets and improve their decision-making capabilities.
12 – Be a cheerleader. You should be your employees’ biggest fan and strongest supporter. Ensure that your executive team is aware of your group’s accomplishments, work with senior staff members to gain recognition for the team’s successes, and be diligent in rewarding individual achievers with promotions when appropriate.