Like many leaders looking toward the horizon of a new year, you’ve probably spent time thinking about what success will look like for your team over the next 12 months. For most organizations, the success of individual projects is directly tied to your team’s success. Whether you find yourself in an unofficial project management role or oversee team members who serve in this role, facilitating smooth sailing for your project teams is an essential factor in whether projects thrive or languish.
Resolve Conflicts During Project Development
Projects involve groups of people working together—and that means roadblocks and friction can pop up over the course of a project. Leaders have an active role to play in creating harmony, not just getting involved when conflict arises. Because change is an inevitable part of projects—especially multifaceted and long-term initiatives—savvy leaders will anticipate conflict, get ahead of any potential points of friction within teams, and do everything they can to manage change ahead of time.
Be accessible and available at both scheduled and as-needed times so that team members can surface issues and concerns. Encourage team members to reach out to you before issues become serious or entrenched so that solutions can be creatively discussed and implemented to keep the project healthy and vibrant—and to keep team members mentally and emotionally engaged.
When conflict arises, think again about value as the core principle. What is the hoped-for benefit that resolution can deliver? When team members have a positive approach, they are set up to learn, gain, and grow from the process. Resolution strategies include clearly defining expectations for both work quality and process workflows, communicating expectations, and creating a framework for everyone involved to be thoroughly heard.
Inspire Enthusiasm for Project Success
Leaders monitoring work at a project level can motivate teams in specific and meaningful ways. When it comes to helping people feel their talents and effort are recognized and appreciated, communicating individual and team successes is a contribution worth its weight in gold.
Celebrations of milestones or smaller, more informal recognition opportunities, particularly through tedious or challenging legs of a project journey, can keep spirits high and foster the kind of loyalty needed for both keeping a project in scope and making sure the quality of work is excellent. Showing team members that their work is seen and valued can be a powerful motivator.
“Leaders who are good stewards have a good sense of when they are needed,” Kogon says. “They give timely feedback and give the project manager support by celebrating them, keeping them engaged, and keeping them going. That’s pretty important.”
Find both formal ways, such as 360 reviews at regular or milestone-based intervals, and informal ways, such as dropping a line in a private message or sending an appreciative gift card after someone has gone the extra mile, to recognize good work and keep morale high.
Cultivate Agility Throughout a Project’s Lifecycle
Even the most careful planning and preparation can’t anticipate everything that will come up in the life cycle of a project, which is why an agile approach is essential. Agile project management means that along with staying nimble and responsive throughout a project, teams should also be creative, adaptable, and solution-oriented when things change.
New elements that arise in a project timeline are opportunities for team achievement. Encourage culture change around creative problem-solving by demonstrating a welcoming approach to challenges. Set an example of resilience and positivity to help the project get unstuck and teach team members a can-do approach.
This kind of empowerment has knock-on effects that send ripples throughout an organization. It increases employee satisfaction, heightens personal investment, and instills a sense of pride in creating quality work that ensures business outcomes.
All leaders are involved with the management of projects at some level. This involvement in project management is why understanding the project management process—and developing both mindsets and skillsets to effectively manage projects—is so important to the health and effectiveness of any organization. These skills can be gained through high-quality leadership development programs and management courses.
Facilitating smooth working relationships on your project teams, inspiring enthusiasm, and cultivating a culture of agility can help project teams stay healthy and productive so that even when you encounter bumps in the road, you can effectively execute and deliver strong results to your organization.
The ever-changing nature of modern organizations means leaders often play the role of unofficial project manager. Strengthen your skillset with a solid project management framework, supportive team coordination approach, and tools to eliminate friction.