One of the jobs of a project leader or a supervisor is to hold a team and /or individuals accountable for the completion of projects. It’s the “manager” aspect of being a good leader. While the priority time for a leader is going to be spent around casting vision and advancing strategy there will always be projects to manage. Often this can be done by assigning the project to a trusted leader or someone you are wanting to gain some leadership experience. It’s a great practice to be able to prioritize your time while helping your team to grow in experience and there are ways you can help make sure it goes smoothly. The following three ingredients will help your project leader know what the expectations and deliverables are and will begin to set them up for success. Before the project begins be sure to personally provide these three things:
This one is first for a reason, how you communicate about the work sets the tone for how the project goes. If you don’t clearly annunciate at the outset why this work is important, how it fits into the organization, and what it helps to accomplish than the person in charge of helping you pull it off may not catch the fullest vision of it. When the vision for something isn’t caught then it misses needed passion for it. When needed passion isn’t there then you get results that don’t reflect a person’s best thoughts and energy. You will want to make sure you have the chance to set the level of urgency and attention that needs to go to the project. You can’t blame the team or an individual for the results when you haven’t communicated clearly what the work needs from them.
How you communicate about the work sets the tone for how the project goes.
Are you familiar with situations where someone is accountable for results but not empowered to get them? It’s a frustrating dynamic and a common scenario in many organizations. Someone may be given the accountability to run a project or a project team but not be given the authority levels to get what they need. In other words, if they have to go through their supervisor to get permission for every single step of the process they will struggle to move the work forward with any sustained momentum. If you trust them to run the project then trust them with the authority they need to do it. It puts a project leader in a very awkward position when their team members consistently hear back from them that they have to wait until the team leader checks with a supervisor to see if something is OK to move forward on. There certainly will always be appropriate checks a team leader will need to do with their supervisor but they don’t need to be paralyzed from being able to make pertinent project decisions. Be clear from the start with the project leader where they need to check with you and where they have room to make the decision. It will grow them as a leader and strengthen their team’s view of them as empowered as well.
If you trust them to run the project then trust them with the authority they need to do it.
This seems like a given but crops up more than one would think. Make sure your project leader has a clear understanding of when items are due. For many projects there are needs for updates or even completion of some of the basic tasks that trickle over to other projects. You don’t want this project leader to be in a position where you or other teams are needing information from them at specific points and they not be aware of it and able to prepare for it. Often times it helps a project leader if you will break the overall project into smaller deadlines which they can report to you on. This helps them keep the team moving on it and helps ward off any hidden procrastinators from holding the entire team up.
Look for all the ways you know to set them up for success.
The roots of success in project management, as well as failure, can often be found in how the project was initially formed. Clear communication, delineation of responsibility, and understanding of the deadlines are foundational and often sit with those who lead the project leader. Look for all the ways you know to set them up for success. Their success and growth as leaders becomes your testimony to good leadership.