Want to make an immediate positive impact when facing a project performance problem? It may be a team member, it may be cooperation among team members, it may be performance of the entire team or even just progress on the major project tasks with no obvious source of origin. But something needs to be done and it has to start somewhere.
Here's how to get started and make a difference tomorrow – before lunch time. I think any project manager with a problem on their project should be interested in a fast fix before sitting down to take a look at the long term fix...
First, this all starts likely with one meeting. It may take 2-3 hours, but with one meeting that puts the entire team together in one place or at least on one conference call together, you can do all three things necessary to get started down the path to real corrective action today while laying the groundwork for the deeper fix that is likely to come. Here's what I like to cover – preferably in one overall meeting...
1. Meet to discuss concerns.
Once you've gathered the team, start the meeting by explaining the concerns. Perhaps it's conflicts among team members, the performance by specific team members that isn't meeting expectations and its affecting the team and project as a whole, or possibly the project client has brought a concern to your attention or to the attention of your senior leadership that needs to be addressed. Whatever it is, don't single out individuals during this meeting. What we are discussing right here - right now - are the quick fixes and discussions that can help ignite overall team improvement immediately.
2. Review the budget.
Whether the budget is part of the issue or not, I highly recommend including the team in budget analysis and review at least periodically throughout the project. As the team begins to understand at a more detailed level what a huge task it is to keep a juggernaut project on track financially, they will automatically be more accountable for their tasks, own them better, and help make sure they take better care of accurately and discriminately charging their time to your project.
3. Go over the project schedule task by task.
Taking the time to go through the project schedule meticulously task by task, deliverable by deliverable can work wonders on team ownership and performance. For some team members it may be the first time they are looking at the project schedule in complete detail. Many team members tend to only really pay attention to their tasks and the high level tasks they are rolled in to. And unless they were assigned to the team prior to kickoff - and most aren't - then they may have never really done a deep dive into the project schedule at a task level like this before now. I guarantee you that after performing this exercise with them all team members will have a renewed energy, focus and ownership - provided you made it as lively and quick as possible and didn't lull them to sleep or bore them to death. Just don't bring doughnuts to this meeting, the carbs will knock them out instantly.
Remember, this isn't an overall fix. This is the beginning of the fix. Much more hard work awaits in the form of team member one on ones, action plans and possibly customer follow ups. But these three actions - which can be done separately or together in one extended morning meeting, can help you improve performance today by noon.