On occasion, you may have found yourself asking “If only my team members would do what I asked them to, I’d be able to spend time on more value add activities?”
Perhaps you are asking your team members to provide you with regular updates on the completion status of their assigned work. One of them neglects to provide this information by the requested deadline.
Being a collaborative project manager, you’ll meet with them to confirm that they understand the expected reporting timelines and may even ask them if there’s anything you can do to simplify the process so that expectations won’t be missed in the future. If nothing changes, you may commence nagging them or even escalate to their people manager in the hopes that things will improve. At some point, you may simply give up and start guess-timating how far along they are and using that instead of true actuals.
All that we have done is encourage a continuation of the behavior we were hoping to change.
Nagging or escalation will cause a good team member to disengage and estimating progress without their direct input will eventually come back to haunt you when other team members realize they can get away with this, or worse, your estimated progress reporting is proven to be wrong.
Hindsight is 20-20. Having the team members as a group define the best way to report progress such that it wouldn’t impact their work while still meeting your reporting requirements might have avoided the current challenge. In that case, instead of you having to confront a team member for not adhering to your rules, you can engage the team in holding one of their own accountable to their rules.
But all is not lost – you can still use the same approach. In the next team meeting, let them know that some team members are struggling with the reporting requirements. Acknowledge the effort it takes to do this but also use it as an opportunity to refresh their understanding of how this information gets used and why it is so critical to have it provided accurately and in a timely manner. Show them a recent project status report or dashboard so they can see it live. Then, step back, and ask them to come up with ways to improve the process.
By involving the full team in the development of a solution, you will increase team members’ engagement and they are likely to demonstrate greater ownership of such administrative activities in the future.
When we point the finger at others, many times, the issue lies in the direction which the remaining fingers are pointing to.