3 Key Strategies to Manage People on Projects Effectively

Oct 1, 2019 | Project Management

Learning how to manage people effectively is a major challenge for any project manager. A good project manager has the ability to propel their team to innovate and develop a sense of autonomy in their decisions. In this article, we will discuss three key strategies that can help project managers handle people efficiently.

Set Expectations on What Requires Input

If your team members always rely on you to make decisions at micro levels then it means that you don’t trust them to make decisions for you. To be honest; you can’t always be there for your team, and they have to be self-reliant in making small decisions for themselves.

Sometimes, it’s hard for you as a manager to determine which issues require your full attention. For instance, it’s completely up to you whether or not you care about the font used for the graphic on a launch page.

Most project managers are more concerned with events that affect the budget or schedule. Therefore, they have little time to dictate the granular and technical details of the work. However, depending on your client requirements, comfort level, and the nature of projects, you need to outline which issues need your feedback before your team starts working on the project.

Reinforce Your Expectations

As a project manager, you need to be clear about what you expect from your team.

Unsplash Image 77b16d93b0fa79969ae5f99e74f4a347 800
Photographer: You X Ventures | Source: Unsplash

However, if you have been clear about your expectations and the team is not abiding by their responsibilities, then you must remind them about upholding their end of the bargain.

When project managers are good at what they do, their team members naturally take the easy way out and thrust the responsibility of making all decisions on the manager. Although this is alright if you have an inexperienced team willing to learn from you, after a certain point, your team needs to take on responsibility and ownership.

Of course, some people in your team will always be dependent. If you want to manage people who depend on you for making their decisions, you have to turn the tables. The next time anyone asks you to make a decision on their behalf, ask them for their take on it instead of giving your opinion.

If they persist on staying dependent, it is important to remind them that they must start making their own decisions in order to grow. You have to reiterate that you trust them to come up with a brilliant solution and they don’t have to consult you every time they face a problem.

Often, the reason why employees stay dependent is either that they have low self-confidence or they have become accustomed to taking your feedback on everything. Naturally, they will make a few mistakes in the beginning. However, as a manager, you need to give them some time to grow and build their skills, especially if they are working on an agile project.

However, asking people their take on a project doesn’t yield as great results as one expects. Some people still continue to bother you with unwarranted calls and emails. At this point, you need to improvise your project management techniques.

Go offline and refrain from replying to emails sent by your team members. But before you do that, give your team a clear objective with a set of expectations and an unavoidable deadline they need to meet.

It can be hard to determine how to manage team members in this manner without giving them the impression that they are being ignored. To clarify this, you have to set up weekly one-to-one meetings with each member of your team. Setting a designated time to meet allows them to stay prepared for the things they have to discuss with you.

Furthermore, this minimizes any unnecessary requests that team members send every now and then. If someone is not prepared for the topic of discussion, end your meeting early. Next week, they will prepare a list of agenda items if they are serious about their job.

Teach Your Team to Be Self-Reliant

Team work, work colleagues, working together
Photographer: Annie Spratt | Source: Unsplash

It is extremely important for managers to make their team self-reliant. For instance, when a team member asks you how they could outline a report, you can present a deliverable template to make your job easier. As a result, your team member wouldn’t consult you before initiating every new assignment.

This is especially helpful when someone is managing an agile project. However, you can further improve on it by letting them know that there have been some inconsistencies in the deliverable format. After that, task your team with implementing a solution by the following week.

In these scenarios, you can stand back and just wait for the results. It can be a make or break moment for your team. Competent teams will come up with great solutions on their own and will stay prepared for any unexpected situations in the future.

This method of delivery maybe a little dramatic, but it teaches your team to rely on their abilities to overcome any problems they face. For instance, if you push your team to deliver reports more quickly, it can motivate them to create a custom style guide for themselves. Furthermore, it can help them develop an internal quality assurance process.

As a result, the consequent solutions tend to be more creative and comprehensive than anything a project manager can come up within their limited time. Moreover, it can help project managers decrease the time they need to spend in review and help your team develop a common understanding of what you expect. In the end, project managers have to trust their team to manage work, and consequently, the team will trust the managers to lead them.

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