Project managers are expected to do more than just see tasks to completion. To really succeed in the job, you’ll also need to support and enable each member of your team.
Developing strong team chemistry is a big achievement — it’s the sort of cohesion that has powered startups and sports teams to levels of success that everyone thought impossible. However, managing a team is about more than just getting everyone to work together.
The real goal needs to be getting the most out of team members. Whether you’re managing a remote team from around the world or connecting with people in an office, you have to remember that the most effective and efficient people are ones who are happy and feel supported by leadership.
With that being said, here are 8 tips to help you get the most out of team members.
#1. Set The Standard
You can read this two different ways. On one hand, your team won’t know your expectations unless you share them. So clearly setting a standard of excellence lets everyone know what you expect from them — you’ll then have to help them achieve (or even surpass) those goals.
However, a better interpretation of this is that the project manager should be the one blazing the trail that everyone else follows. While it helps to know what a manager expects from you, it is much more helpful — or even inspiring — to see that manager put it into action.
Think back to all the amazing stories of human achievement you’ve heard. Whether it is the captain of a sports team, the officer of a sailing expedition or the manager of a startup, a leader who strives for excellence inspires everyone around them to be at their best.
#2. Maintain Organization
No team thrives without guidelines. Imagine if you removed all of the titles (and associated responsibilities) from your team members. Who would tackle which duties? And what happens when you bring in new employees?
Even the most free-spirited human needs some level of direction. That could be on a macro scale, like laws against theft. Or it could be on a micro-scale, like choosing to become vegan.
Modern research has proven that organizational rules are a part of our subconscious needs. And in some cases, rules come out of an unofficial decision to deal with some sort of obstacle.
Even if you tried to get rid of rules, your team members would create new ones on their own. And so it makes sense that you — as a project manager — should be the one who analyzes and maintains rules for your team. You can make sure tasks are assigned to people most suited to them, or find opportunities for people to learn new skills as needed.
#3. Recognize Success
Everyone likes to be told they did a good job. And celebrating a big win or personal achievement also reaffirms the standards of excellence you set (if you already followed Tip #1). It’s an easy way to build confidence and encourage similar behavior from others.
Of course, it’s worth noting that people appreciate recognition in different ways. Some team members might be happy to get a call-out in a department meeting, while others would prefer a quiet email or note thanking them for doing their job well.
Part of recognizing success means knowing your team members. Which leads us to…
#4. Communicate Frequently
Part of managing a project means managing people. And while your projects might be low maintenance (especially if your team is excelling), your team members need to know you’re invested.
The most celebrated leaders — both in the corporate world and throughout history — are the ones who “lead from the front,” who roll up their sleeves and jump into projects. By setting the standard, you are showing that you’re not too important to get stuff done, and that makes you more approachable.
But being approachable works both ways. You also have to go out of your way sometimes to engage your team members. Ask what you can do to make their job smoother. Look into workloads and make sure no one is overwhelmed.
Connect with everyone as a person (not just an employee) and build meaningful relationships. It’s an easy way to be hands-on without being controlling or nosey, and it’ll improve team chemistry while also supporting each individual on the team.
#5. Give Clear Feedback
The only way someone understands your expectations or opinions is if you express them. While we could technically cover that in a completely separate post, the bare minimum to talk about is encouraging a two-way conversation, focusing on the performance, and making sure you’re specific in the examples and topics you cover.
Good managers know that giving effective feedback is about more than giving advice. The goal is to analyze (and sometimes critique) the work of someone else but to deliver the information in a way that becomes a teaching experience rather than an uncomfortable one.
Approach the interaction with empathy. If you’ve been communicating frequently, it shouldn’t be too unusual to give feedback team members can actually learn from.
#6. Build For Diversity
A team of similar people with similar responsibilities might get the job done, but they’re not likely to thrive in that environment.
One study by ADP found that building a diverse team actually improves employee engagement. These particular teams had a 19% higher retention rate, and claimed to be 57% better at collaboration. And all of that leads to more effective work from those teams.
While a project manager may not have the same powers as an HR director, you should look for opportunities to bring diversity to your team. If the only path to do that is collaborating with different teams or sharing a workspace with others, then that’s the option you should take.
Because at the end of the day, all of these tips focus on one thing: Using established tactics (and your own inherent abilities as a manager) to set your team members up for success. And when we do our best as individuals, we will also elevate the work of everyone around us.