Last week I talked about why we need to rethink resource management, and specifically the people part. If you haven’t read it, you might want to start there. This blog outlines eight recommendations on people management. After all, that’s the hardest part of resource management. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. These tips can work for you.
Use self-managed teams.
Are you more eager and motivated to finish the task that you chose to do or the task that was assigned to you by someone else? Most people will select the first option. It’s simple. Teams work more effectively when they are allowed to manage themselves.
One key to using self-managed teams is building trust. You can find some suggestions on building trust here.
Create a compelling ‘why?’ for each project.
Here again, think about what excites you. Everyone is different, but don’t most people want to work on something that excites them? Can you explain the project in a way that is exciting to others? It may not be essential when everything is fresh, but later on, that compelling ‘why?’ statement will be something that you can rally around to reenergize the team.
Know what is motivating your team members.
As Daniel Pink noted in his famed book, Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, most of us want more autonomy, mastery, and purpose. But we’re all a little different. Some of us are at a place in our lives where we are looking for more purpose. At other times in our lives, we might have looked for more autonomy or mastery. And then, there are times, when we might be looking for more money or more time off.
Don’t assume that everyone on your team is at the same place. Have you talked to people on your team to see what is motivating them? Do you know what kind of career growth your team members are looking for?
Identify communication channel preferences.
Here again, people are so different. Some people almost never really process their email, while others rarely have old emails in their inbox. Some people don’t read texts, or don’t remember to follow up on actions in texts, while others never return phone calls. And now we have newer channels, such as Slack – which might be great when everyone is using it. If people are regularly reading their emails on a phone, their tolerance for getting long explanatory emails is likely short.
We are all inundated with communication channels. Will your implementation team agree to use the same channel? Can you identify the preferred communication channel for everyone on your team and try to use that channel most of the time? When you know everyone’s preference, you can at least use the preferred channel when you need a quick answer.
Regularly engage with your project teams.
Project dashboards may be a wonderful invention, but they have their limitations. Online tools may be great, but they are no substitute for face to face talking, even if done electronically. Talking with your project teams on a regular basis is important.
If you are the project sponsor, it is especially important that your team hears from you periodically. Let them know when other matters in the organization have suddenly risen to the top of your list of concerns and how that impacts their project work. Don’t expect a team to suddenly become transparent with you, if you are non-communicative. You are asking your teams to be fully committed to their work. Can you commit to engaging with them regularly and showing your enthusiasm for this project that you entrusted to them?
Focus on getting commitments to results over commitments to a schedule.
In last week’s blog, I talked about why getting commitments to a schedule in today’s world is often impossible. And yet, we keep trying to take that path. Why can’t we focus more on getting people committed to a result? In my experience, that is much more exciting, and doable. The key is to agree on what the result will be. I’ve written before on what ‘done’ looks like here.
Use time blocking and effective meetings.
Time blocking is a type of scheduling approach that focuses on results instead of a printable schedule. What can you accomplish in the next two-hours or two-weeks? Time blocking is an effective way to structure work so that it goes from being in a backlog of ideas to a completed reality. Regardless of what you call the categories, your activities fall into several different buckets: Activities that are not started; those that you plan to do in this time block; ones currently in progress; and those that you have finished. There might even be a bucket of possible activities that have not been approved in the scope.
A team meeting held at the end of every time block (these can be one to four weeks long), should be held for the purpose of learning from the past to improve the future. During these meetings, teams should take time to identify and analyze risks, review the budget and project results to date, and plan the upcoming work.
Regular and frequent ‘standing meetings’ are a great way to build accountability on the team. During these meetings, members of the team answer three questions: a) What have I accomplished since the last meeting? b) What do I plan to accomplish next? c) Are there any problems that are keeping me from moving forward, and if so, what are they? Standing meetings are not status meetings or formal meetings where the leader takes notes and uses those notes to micromanage the team.
Stop thinking that management is about telling people what to do.
I continue to be amazed at the number of people who think that management is about telling people what to do. Management is about setting direction, communicating that direction, lifting people up, inspiring teams, and aligning work efforts with strategy. Done well, your teams can figure out what they need to do. And they will be so much more dedicated and committed when they figure it out themselves.
I’d love to chat if you are struggling with people management. Give me a shout.