~ By Brad Egeland
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we began looking at how project commitment, especially among your project team members, can significantly impact—and increase—your likelihood of a successful project rollout and end.
Now let's consider two more factors that breed commitment and contribute to project success:
If team participation is so effective, why don't more people do it?
First, they claim that they don't have the time for participation. They claim it's faster and easier if the project manager just decides what needs to be done and then delegates tasks to the people on the team.
Participation does require more time during the planning phase. But planning is neither the longest phase nor the phase that consumes the most resources. That phase is execution.
Lack of team participation during planning adds even more time to the execution phase.
The other objection to team participation is that project leaders will lose control of the project. Leaders fear that the team will make bad decisions. They fear that they will be held accountable for the results.
But are their fears really justified?
It's true that the leader will be held accountable for the results. However, the path to achieving the best results is through team participation.
It has been demonstrated time and time again that groups of people will make better overall decisions than a single decision maker. Most projects are too complex for the project leader to understand everything that goes on in every technical area.
Also, it's a waste of time and resources for leaders to try to understand everything when they have people with expertise on the team.
Why not use them by allowing them to participate?
Project leaders fear losing control. But should they?
Control merely shifts from the content to the process. The project leaders control the project management process that the team will follow. They provide the team with the tools and techniques to make good decisions.
In other words, the project leader ensures that good outcomes are achieved. The illusion that you have control when you do something yourself is very strong. But don't assume that level of control is always a good thing.
Being the sole decision maker or planner for the project doesn't usually produce the best project results. It is faster and more accurate to engage the team members to help create the project plan than trying to do it yourself. Why? There are several reasons.
First, you must sell your plan to team members when you're done. Second, inevitably, a plan created in a vacuum by the project leader is flawed. You're better off relinquishing control of the planning and monitoring decisions. Instead, ensure you have a good process for people to follow.
Give them what they need to make the right decisions. You can always reserve some decisions for yourself. It's your prerogative as the project leader. Just consider doing it when it will be most effective for the project and for the team.
There are other factors, I realise…and how this happens, what you do to make it happen and how well it works is dependent on many factors. Other factors include project size, visibility and funding, as well as the type of staff you have assigned to the project.
Unfortunately, there are those project team members who can't stay engaged, focused and motivated no matter what level of participation and accountability you thrust upon them. They likely just need to be replaced…sorry, it's unfortunate, but true.
Remember that 50% of projects fail. Don't keep deadweight on your team. It only makes it more likely your projects won't survive the cut.
But by following some logical PM best practices as you assemble, involve and assign work with and to your team members, you help ensure a high degree of involvement and ownership…at least for most team members.
Please share your own thoughts and experiences in this crucial corner of the project management and project resource management world.