4 keys to building trust with your project team
Thursday, January 10, 2019
When you’re asked to lead a new project, you’re probably also given a team. You may not know these team members, and they’re unfamiliar with you as well. Some might welcome the coordinating efforts of a project manager while others would prefer you stay out of their way.
Regardless of these factors, it’s essential to the success of the project that you find a way to work well together.
In leading project teams where several team members didn’t care for project management methods, the following actions helped me gain credibility and build trust with the team:
Key No. 1: Advocate for them to management
There may come a time during the project when the team needs more time to complete a milestone task or needs additional funding. In these moments, document the case for more time or money.
Review your notes with key team members and incorporate their feedback. If you agree that their request is reasonable, present the case to management. Even if you don’t get approval from management, your team will appreciate you making an effort to support them.
Key No. 2: Ask for their input on tasks, deadlines, and assignments
Never add tasks to the project plan without first consulting with the individual you’re about to assign the task to. Get input from team members about what tasks are needed for the project, when they need to complete each task, and who the best person to do the work is.
When they have direct input into the project plan, it’s much harder for them to justify complaining about the deadlines later on. Also, asking for their input shows you recognize their subject matter expertise and value their professional opinion.
Key No. 3: Solicit feedback
Some team members will give you their feedback freely (sometimes a bit too freely). However, you’ll probably need to actively solicit input from the more introverted members of the team.
Find out if they have any questions about how to update their tasks in the project management software, whether they think team meetings are run effectively, or if they have any ideas on how to help the team work better together. Again, asking for feedback demonstrates respect and often results in a better product in the long-run.
Key No. 4: Confront in private; praise in public
When a team member misses a deadline or makes an error regarding a task, discuss the issue with that individual directly. Confronting that person in a team meeting or other public setting will put him on the defensive.
You’re less likely to get a reasoned, helpful response that way. Instead, talk with her individually and ask why she’s late with that task or what caused the error.
Ask if there’s anything you can do to help remove roadblocks or get additional resources. Go into the discussion assuming this individual has good intentions and let him prove you wrong if needed. If necessary, escalate the issue to the team member’s direct supervisor.
However, I’ve found most cases can be resolved fairly quickly without the need to get others involved. That allows the team member to fix the problem without being called out in a public forum.
On the other hand, when a team member does something that goes above and beyond to help the team, mention that in a team meeting. Share what the team member did and how those actions saved the project team time or the company money. You don’t have to make a huge deal out of it, but a simple mention and thank you can go a long way towards making people feel appreciated.
These are a few examples of how you, as the project manager, can build trust with your team members.
We spend so much time asking about the status of tasks that it’s easy to neglect the relational side of leading a team. However, we do that to the detriment of our team and the project as a whole. It’s well worth the investment of time and energy to build trust and develop solid working relationships with your team members.
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