These are the people who can help you out when things get tough and make sure that the project stays on course all the way through to completion. You will want to look after them and make them feel as happy as possible in the project, so how will you do this and make sure that they have realistic expectations for the piece of work and their role in it?
Get Them Involved Early On
The early days of a project are exciting times and anyone who gets involved at this stage will feel that they have played a special part in the whole thing. Even if there is nothing much that they can do so early on in the project it is a good idea to show them the documents and explain to them what is happening. This will put them in a good position to get going in earnest later on and you might find that you can also get things clearer in your own head by talking things through with them as well. Also, there can be no getting away from their roles and responsibilities if they are in it from the very start. It is far too easy for someone who only comes along later on in the process to say that they haven’t been involved in any of the stuff which is now causing problems.
Talk to Them Individually
In an ideal world you will be able to give every member of your team the role in the team which will most help their development as well as add to the overall chances of success. Sadly we don’t live in an ideal world but that still shouldn’t stop you from trying to do this. Some people might have a clear idea of what they want to do but others are more likely to go along with whatever you suggest. By getting people on a one-on-one basis you can have a much better chance of emphasizing how you see the work progressing and how you see each person in the project team contributing to it over time.
Show Them the Plans and the Risks
A lot of times project managers are too busy to really go in depth with their team on the project documentation. You might also think that they understand it all anyway but that isn’t necessarily the case. A good move is to set aside some time to go over this with them at the very start of the assignment. If any of them are new to the project world then they might not understand everything as clearly as you think. As well as showing them the dates on your plan, you should also point out the risks and the assumptions which have been taken into account and how these could evolve over time.
Give Them Responsibility
As project manager the buck stops with you but that doesn’t mean that you need to do everything on your own. One easy way of getting others involved and of letting them see how easy or difficult the project is going to be is to give them a bit more responsibility early on in the process. For example, you might want to ask one of them to cover a section in one of the early stakeholder meetings or to put together the first draft of the plan. There are likely to be plenty of jobs needing done and perhaps you could team them up in small groups to work through some things together.
Tell Them What You Expect
Of course, the simplest way to set expectation levels with your team is to tell them what you expect. Some new project managers might think that this is too aggressive or blunt an approach but if you do it the right way then no one can be offended. The best idea is to do it when everyone is relaxed during a team meeting. You might want to approach the subject in a roundabout way by asking the team for their opinions on how they see things panning out. Once you get their opinions you can then add in your own thoughts and make it clear what you expect to see happen as the piece of work progresses. You can keep a note of all of these expectations and review and revise them on a regular basis with the team.
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