Launching a new project can be both exciting and challenging, while invoking a whisper of dread. There are so many ways a project could go wrong, and issues are guaranteed to arise at one point or another. Whether they are related to planning or the team, or due to poor decision making, you and your team should be as prepared as possible to ensure the success of your project.
Efficient project initiation considerably reduces the risk of failure. Clearly setting goals and objectives, as well as making everyone feel involved in and responsible for the project, are two key elements of successful project initiation. However, projects often encounter challenges in the long run, and keeping the initial fire going in each of your team members can be a difficult task.
As the project advances, individuals may have their priorities drift away from those of the project, especially if major issues arise. This could have possibly devastating effects on your project as productivity correlates heavily with involvement. This is why we put together a list of tips to keep your team as involved and productive as they were on the first day of the project.
7 - Encourage individualism and independence
One common mistake that managers make is not providing an environment for individual creativity. Although teamwork requires collective efforts that are directed towards mutual goals, personal expression still holds great significance in the formation of the end result.
Christopher Meyer, associate professor of Management at Baylor University, has conducted several studies among individualist and collectivist personalities, and their integration within a workplace.
“We don't take enough time to think about how we form our teams. We just throw people together and hope for the best. We are expecting chance to give us a better outcome when we can build teams that will work better.” - Chris Meyer
Meyer organized groups of both collectivist and individualist members. They were assigned to specific tasks, while their performance and accuracy were observed. Meyer concluded that, “While we need people who work well in a collective setting, we need people to be individuals as well to get the maximum performance."
In order to pull the most out of your team, try to identify where each team member lies between these two groups, and plan accordingly. Doing so will reduce the risk of team-related issues, foster collaboration, and even enhance your team’s productivity.
6 - Know your soldiers
As we have discussed the importance of setting out the proper working environment, you need to start acknowledging the qualities of each team member. If you are intending to establish a functional group, how do you think you would be able to do that without knowing their full capabilities and limits?
You need to observe your teammates' performance and acquire an accurate perspective on their weaknesses and strengths. This viewpoint would grant you the ability to properly assign tasks over the course of your project. Also, knowing what a team member can and cannot do will definitely help you evaluate them in their own right.
5 - Take ‘No’ for an answer
You may come across moments where you encounter opposition to your decision-making or even to your management style. When such situations occur, you must be ready to embrace the voice on the other end and listen to it carefully.
Managers tend to ignore or discourage oppositional remarks in the workplace. This approach will definitely hinder the possibility of innovation and corrections.
As a manager, you need to understand that you may make mistakes. All human beings make mistakes. However, they will affect you, your project, and each of your team members. That’s why you need to consider each and every note your team members venture to share. Also, following the latter approach encourages respect from your team members, and a sense of true value would arise within them.
Related article: 5 Tips for Project Management
4 - Plan ahead & communicate often
Planning is an essential part of the success of a project. Having deadlines set is a way of putting positive pressure on you and your team, while milestones encourage you to celebrate your small victories toward the completion of the project.
However, we all know that things can go wrong very quickly, and that a single element could throw your planning off for weeks. So consider including preventive additional time into your schedule/planning, in order to increase your ability to respond to urgent matters or timely issues.
Prioritizing is tightly related to planning, and effectively setting priorities is a way to make sure the initial plan is respected. While communicating priorities to your team at the start of the project is essential in making sure deadlines are met, it is also important to constantly update your team on the progress of the project.
It is even more important to communicate when changes are made to either planning or priorities so that everyone is on the same page. While a simple update might do the trick, a quick meeting to explain the hows and whys could prove to be more effective.
3 - Take advantage of technology
As there are many studies based around project management methods and management styles, software developers are creating magnificent tools that make managing projects and organizations easier.
There are apps for everything now: scheduling meetings and emails, and managing entire campaigns. You need to observe where your team is lacking, and a simple search for recently updated technologies will fill in the gaps of your working process.
Project management software provides simple interfaces that will help you effectively share information and documents, follow up on ongoing tasks, and enhance the level of collaboration within your team.
Collaborative to-do lists offer organized spaces, which display each task with its assigned member, the progress that has been made, and more information related to the task.
These tools make it easy to overview a project’s progress through snapshots and analytics, allowing you to identify and deal with issues in a more efficient manner. Some platforms even allow you to work directly with your clients and other external members, collaborating and sharing information, both privately and securely.
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2 - Allow risk-taking
Risk management plays an important part of project management. While identifying risks at the project level is essential, risk assessment should be conducted at the task level by each team member.
Avoiding risk is one thing, taking risks is another thing entirely. While assessing for risks to avoid, you or your team members might stumble upon the best kind of risk there is: opportunity. Opportunities are a great way to try something different, and when successful, they can yield big results.
This is why you should make room for risk-taking by your team members. Whether giving them extra time on a part of the project, or allowing additional budget, taking risks can go a long way for both the project and your team members.
Allowing team members to take risks will be beneficial for two reasons. First, it is gratifying for them to be valued for their work and initiatives, boosting their involvement and motivation towards your project. Second, whether the risk taken was successful or not, there is something you can learn from it, which will help you improve. Of course, when risk-taking is successful, it also brings unplanned progress to your project and boosts your whole team’s morale.
1 - Waste some time
While this may sound counterproductive, enjoying leisure time with your team members may benefit your project more than anything else will. While it can be difficult not to talk about the ongoing project, especially when the stakes are high, breaking away from work-related topics could actually be beneficial for your team.
Organizing team-building activities, as well as after-work parties, will be beneficial. Team-building activities can improve collaborative skills and develop trust between team members. Some obvious benefits are increased productivity and motivation.
After-work parties and other celebrations are a great way to develop recognition for accomplishments and milestones, and are also very effective for team-building because they creates a sense of unity.
Summing it up
To put it briefly, there are many ways you can keep your team motivated and involved, and maintain a level of productivity necessary for the successful completion of a project:
- Get to know your team, and encourage both individual and team work;
- Be open to ideas, comments, and criticism concerning the project as well as your own management style;
- Make a plan, leaving room for potential delays, and communicate on important updates and changes;
- Take advantage of team-collaboration apps that enable easier task delegation and follow-up, information circulation, and project overview;
- Make room for and encourage risk taking;
- Organize team-building activities and celebrate victories.
Related reading: Foster idea generation through deeper collaboration
I hope you have found this article helpful. Please feel free to share your own tips and experiences with us in the comments below.