The Magnificent Seven: Tips for Successful Team Management
- Make sure that goals and expectations are well defined and communicated. Everyone on the team needs to know the what, why and when of the objective. What do we need to do, why do we need to do it, and when does it need to be done. The team itself is the who, and the how may be open to team decision, or be constrained by management or specific business imperatives. Any intermediate milestones or decision points need to be determined and understood by the team.
- Explain the differentiation of roles of members to all. Everyone needs to know who's doing what, who's providing input to their tasks, and who is taking their output and what they will do with it themselves. Understanding the inter-relationships in the effort goes a long way towards a cooperative and cohesive effort. Having everything out in the open avoids any future "I didn't know" excuses for missed tasks.
- The responsibilities and accountabilities of each member of the team need to be clearly
identified, and individual performance monitored and managed. Individual performance is "magnified" in the ream setting. This can be (wonderfully) positive but also (disastrously) negative. Issues or performance problems need to be addressed in private, while keeping the appropriate supervisors in the loop (see #6).
- Team meetings should evolve into self-regulated events, while those in lead-activity positions should be encouraged to take the floor and lead the meeting. The leader should operate primarily in a facilitation mode and only get into a direct-lead position when absolutely necessary.
- Plan the work and work the plan, but don't overload the team with excessive reporting requirements, charting, status reports, etc. Remember, the project isn't to complete documentation, but to implement a change or improvement. Let the scope of the project dictate the extensiveness of the documentation. Multi-month projects with large teams may require significant documentation, but in the end, it is a tool not an objective.
- Keep the sponsors in the loop. Touch base regularly with team members' supervisors, senior management, and any other project sponsors with status, issues, individuals' performance problems, etc. Get advanced approval of specific milestones and hurdles, including any sign-off or approval requirements. Nothing destroys a team's momentum and morale faster than an approval "holding pattern" that drags out.
7. Celebrate milestone completions with activities appropriate to the stage and scope of the project. It is very infrequent that kudos and awards take any cash forms. Parties, plaques, certificates, etc. are typical. Positive feedback and public recognition are priceless. Don't forget to include any citations in personnel files.