5 ways to alienate your project team
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
The role of project manager isn’t always viewed kindly. Some team members may think you don’t do any real work or that you’re creating extra work for them.
To fight against those stereotypes, consider the following ways you could accidentally alienate your team and take a different approach instead.
1. Schedule lots of meetings
You’ve probably seen the memes about a meeting that should have been an email. Meetings are notorious for being inefficient and unproductive. With that in mind, only schedule meetings when necessary.
When you do schedule a meeting, include a detailed agenda and just invite people who need to be there to add insights or make decisions. Also, if you have a weekly team meeting on the calendar, feel free to cancel it if it’s not needed that week.
2. Constantly pester them about deadlines
Project managers get tagged as being “professional nags” since we’re continually trying to get status on various tasks. While that’s part of our job, if we hover over team members and ask each day about a specific assignment, that’s not going to go over well.
Instead, ask team members to update their tasks within the project management software you’re using (this requires software that’s cloud-based or on a central server). If someone doesn’t update their tasks in that system, then it makes sense to send an email reminder or stop by their desk to get an update.
Don’t ask for updates any more than once a week unless it’s an emergency.
3. Don’t support them with upper management
Sometimes you need to go bat for your team. Maybe they hit an unexpected issue and need more time or a bit more money. Get the details so you have a full understanding of what happened, why it occurred, and various options for addressing the issue.
If you feel confident that this issue isn’t due to negligence by the team, then advocate for the team to upper management. I’ve had to do this to get a deadline extension and more money for a project.
It takes extra effort to investigate the problem and provide management with options, but the team appreciated my efforts and we got what we needed to complete the project.
4. Never acknowledge their hard work
It’s rare to have team members whose only job responsibilities are to the project. They usually have their regular jobs to do with this project added onto that list. Keep this in mind when you schedule meetings, ask for status updates, or wonder why they’re not done yet.
Sometimes you’ll have to push the fact that deadlines are approaching. When you do, make sure they know you recognize this isn’t the only item on their to-do list.
That recognition doesn’t solve the time issue, but it should help you maintain a healthy working relationship with the team.
5. Bury them in paperwork
At different points in the project, you’ll need team members to fill out purchases requests, sign off on test results, and more. I’ve run into team members who thought project managers were simply “paper pushers” and didn’t do much else.
To avoid feeding that narrative, keep the paperwork to a minimum. Do what’s required within the company and by law, but don’t add to that list.
For paperwork related to project management, such as the project charter, handle that yourself as much as possible. Create the draft and meet with those who should have input into the document, then present it to the team for their input before finalizing it.
Creating a healthy working relationship within the project team and between the team and yourself is no small feat. By avoiding these alienating actions, you’ll foster more goodwill and better communication with the team.
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