We have all gotten them, a last minute email from Martha, “sorry I can’t make today’s meeting”. We start our project update without Mike, he is on a “important call” with headquarters. Once we open the door to missing meetings, late attendance or missed due dates, projects fail. How do we avoid this slippery slope? Here are some basic recommendations to keep team members engaged.
Build the right team from the beginning. A classic responsibility assignment matrix or RACI model is a good start. Make sure you team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Keep this document in front of the team throughout the project. If you have members that are not “Responsible” or “Accountable”, you need define their role. We all get “stuck” with team members due to political, organizational or historical reasons and need to communicate their “value add”.
Approach the drifter the individually. Don’t immediately go on the attack for missing meetings or causing delays. Instead, ask them to join you in reviewing the project plan. Chances are they will volunteer reasons why they are not contributing. It may be short-term pressure to complete another task, general lack of interest or unclear responsibilities. If you really need them on the team, you should be able to explain their critical role.
Call out their slacking in front of the team. Peer pressure is real. If you have tried a personal approach without success, make it public. Highlight past due tasks and ownership, note impacts to the critical path. Present an attendance log. This approach may not win you a friend but it will be an “ah ha” moment for the entire team.
Have a team building event. Often these are done at project kick-off, but if you notice cliques developing within the group or project complacency this may be what the team needs. Plan an off-site event that takes the group away from the project but brings the team closer together. Wrap-up the session with a few key next steps for the project. Drive some excitement!
Look internally. “Am I managing the project effectively?” It is easy for any project manager to get into a groove – weekly meetings, routine updates and standard documents. Remember every project is different. Project pacing loses more members than any area. Why? Some members feel the project is moving too fast and critical items are neglected. Others members go days, weeks without a task due and lose direction. Schedule a high level update to confirm due dates and deliverables. Get input from each team member and re-act accordingly. Update plans and correct management issues. Respect team member input…drive engagement!
Don’t let one rogue team member jeopardize your project. Address the issue quickly. If you cannot resolve individually, look for ways to work within the framework of the team. It’s critical to isolate the problem before it grows throughout the group. Determine the right solution for your situation and take action!
About the Author
has twenty years as a project manager and innovation consultant. Excited about the big data revolution and helping companies profit from technology advancements. For more insights feel free to contact Clay via email or twitter.