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Monday, July 4, 2011

Chapter 66: Managing the Project Team

You have acquired a team and it is in place and you have a plan to develop the team. This is not the end of the road. You need to manage your team properly to ensure that they do not stray away from the project objectives and work as a cohesive unit towards the project deliverables.
You manage the project team by using the Manage Project Team process, which is aimed at improving the project performance by executing the following tasks:
• Resolving issues
• Coordinating changes
• Tracking the performance of each team member
• Providing feedback to the team members
Managing the project team involves activities from hiring to firing and therefore requires a wide spectrum of management skills, including communication, conflict management, negotiation, and leadership. On one hand you should provide challenging assignments, and on the other hand you should recognize and reward high performance.

The whole process can be explained using the picture below:


Input to Managing the Project Team

The inputs to this process of Managing the Project Team are:
Human resource plan - The following items in the human resource plan, part of project management plan, are the inputs to the Manage Project Team process:
Roles and responsibilities - Used to monitor and evaluate performance of each member of the team.
Project organizational charts - Used to find out the reporting relationships among project team members.
Staffing management plan - Contains information such as training plans, compliance issues, and certification requirements, along with the time periods when the team members are expected to work.

Project staff assignments - Obviously, you should know who your team members are and what they are supposed to be doing. So, project staff assignments, an output of the Acquire Project Team process, are an obvious input to managing the project team.

Performance information - The following items regarding performance are input to the Manage Project Team process:
Team performance assessment - This is the output of the Develop Project Team process discussed earlier in this chapter. Performance assessments provide important information that can be used in managing a team member and in managing the team. These assessments can be the basis to identify issues and address them. Some examples are the need to resolve conflicts, the need for training, and the need to modify communication.
Performance reports - Performance reports contain the progress of the project against the baseline data, such as the schedule baseline, the cost baseline, and the quality baseline. They basically reflect how the project resources are being used to achieve the project objectives. The information from the performance reports helps determine future human resource requirements, updates to the staffing management plan, and recognitions and rewards.
Organizational process assets - The project management team can use the following organizational assets while managing the project team:
• The organization’s policies, procedures, and system for rewarding the team members. Certificates of appreciation, recognition dinners, and bonus structures are a few examples.
• Other items that should be available to the project management team for use in managing the team, such as bulletin boards, newsletters, and internal websites for information sharing.

Tools and Techniques for Managing the Project Team

The following tools and techniques can be used during this process.

Observation and conversation - Observations and conversations are both means to stay in touch with the work and attitudes of the project team members. The indicators to monitor these include the following:
• Progress toward completion of assigned activities and therefore project deliverables
• Distinguished accomplishments contributing to the project performance
• Interpersonal issues

Conflict management - The purpose of conflict management is to nourish the positive working relationships among the team members that result in increased productivity. Common sources for conflicts include the following:
• Scarce resources resulting in unsatisfied needs
• Scheduling priorities
• Personal work styles
• Perceptions, values, feelings, and emotions
• Power struggles

You can reduce the number of conflicts by setting ground rules, clearly defining roles and goals, and implementing solid project management practices.

Trivia:
Differences of opinion should not be considered as sources of conflict. If managed properly, differences can be very healthy and can lead to better solutions and thereby increase productivity.

Initially, project team members who are parties to a conflict should be given the opportunity to resolve it themselves. If the team members fail to resolve the conflict and it becomes a negative factor for the project, you, the project manager, should facilitate the conflict resolution, usually in private and using a direct and collaborative approach. If the conflict continues, you might have no option other than to use formal procedures, such as disciplinary actions.

Different project managers normally use various styles or methods under different situations. The choice of the conflict resolution style or technique may be influenced by the following factors:
• Whether the conflict needs to be resolved for the long term or a short-term resolution is fine
• The intensity of the conflict and the relative importance of resolution in the context of the project
• The urgency of resolving the conflict
• The positions taken by the parties involved in the conflict

The first step in conflict management is analyzing the nature and type of conflict, which might involve asking questions. You can meet with the parties involved in the conflict. The next step is to determine the management strategy. Different management strategies to handle conflicts are:
Avoidance - In this strategy, at least one party to the conflict ignores (or withdraws) from the conflict and decides not to deal with the problem. This strategy can be used by the project manager as a cooling-off period, to collect more information, or when the issue is not critical. However, if the issue is critical, this is the worst resolution strategy and can give rise to lose/lose situations if both parties withdraw or yield/lose situations if one party withdraws. This strategy is also called withdrawal strategy.
Competition - In this approach, one party uses any available means to get its way, often at the expense of the other party. This is a win/lose situation. It can be justified under some situations, such as when the basic rights of a party in conflict are at stake or when you want to set a precedent. However, if used unfairly from a power position, it can be destructive for team development. This strategy can cause the conflict to escalate, and the loser party might attempt to retaliate. When used by a party in power, competition is also called forcing.
Compromising - In this strategy, both parties gain something and give up something. This is a lose-win/lose-win strategy. You can use this strategy to achieve temporary solutions and to avoid a damaging power struggle when there is time pressure. The downside of this approach is that both parties can look at the solution as a lose/lose situation and can be distracted from the merits of the issues involved. In this way, the short-term solution can hurt the long-term objectives of the project.
Accommodation - This strategy is the opposite of the competition strategy. One party attempts to meet the other party’s needs at the expense of their own. This might be a justifiable strategy when the concerns of the accommodating party are less significant than the concerns of the other party in the context of the project. Sometimes it’s used as a goodwill gesture. However, it is a lose/win approach (the accommodating party loses and the accommodated party wins), and the accommodating party runs the risk of losing credibility and influence in the future. However, when this strategy is applied carefully and both parties become accommodating, they can meet in the areas of agreement, and it can turn into a win/win situation. This is why this technique is also called smoothing.
Collaboration - This strategy is based on reaching consensus among the parties in the conflict. Both parties work together to explore several solutions and agree on the one that satisfies the needs and concerns of both parties. This is a win/win strategy and is generally considered the best of all the strategies because it helps build commitment and promotes goodwill between the parties involved.
Confronting - Some experts consider this approach as a variation of collaboration. You confront the problem causing the conflict head on and then solve that problem through an open dialogue and by examining several alternatives. This approach is also called problem solving.

Trivia:
Conflicts are inevitable in any project. Any project manager who says there has never been any conflict in his team is either living in Narnia or is a really bad project manager who doesn't know what is happening in his team. Every project that involves at least 3 people will have a conflict of interest between the members. Conflicts happen because, everyone wants the biggest piece of the pie and are not willing to play second fiddle to others. They want what is best for them and their careers. As the project manager it is our responsibility to ensure that both parties feel as if they have got the biggest pie and are willing to cooperate with one another in future. This is the best possible resolution to any conflict. Another point to note is that, never take the avoidance approach. It may give you a feeling of resolution now but it is like a ticking time bomb. It will explode in a much bigger and nastier manner in future unless resolved appropriately.

Project performance appraisals - Conducting project performance appraisals includes evaluating the performance of project team members and providing them with feedback based on the evaluation. The evaluation is based on information collected from several people interacting with the team member. This method of collecting information is called the 360-degree feedback principle because the information comes from several sources.

The objectives for conducting performance appraisals include the following:
• Providing positive feedback to team members in a possibly hectic environment
• Clarifying roles and responsibilities
• Discovering new issues and reminding of unresolved issues
• Discovering the needs of individual training plans
• Setting specific goals for the future

Trivia:
Performance Appraisals are probably the biggest cause of conflicts and low motivation in a project. If the project manager isn’t capable of handling appraisals it will end up with catastrophic consequences.

Issue log - Issues generally involve obstacles that can stop the project team from achieving the project objectives. A written log should be maintained that contains the list of team members responsible for resolving the issues by target dates. The purpose of the issue log is to monitor the issues until they are closed.

Trivia:
Confront the problem or the issue head on, but do your homework (investigate, research, or analyze) before taking action. This will not only help you answer a few questions correctly in the exam, but also help you be a better project manager.

Output of Managing the Project Team

The following are the outputs of this process:
Change requests - The Manage Project Team process might generate recommendations for corrective and preventive actions and other changes. This may include:
Recommended corrective actions - A corrective action is a direction for executing project work to bring future performance in line with what is expected in the project management plan. The corrective actions recommended during project team management might include the following:
o Staffing changes, such as changing assignments of the team members, replacing team members (for example, ones who leave), and outsourcing some work
o Training for the team or for individual team members
o Recognition and rewards based on the reward system
o Disciplinary actions
Recommended preventive actions - A preventive action is a direction to perform an activity to stop or reduce the probability of an anticipated event occurrence generally associated with a project risk. Preventive action can also be taken to reduce the anticipated impact of an event in case it happens. The preventive actions recommended during project team management might include the following:
o Cross-training so that, in the absence of a team member, another team member can take over the assignment
o Role clarifications to ensure that all responsibilities associated with the role are performed
o Planning for overtime in anticipation of extra work that might be needed to meet project deadlines

Other change requests and updates - The team management activities can generate some change requests for the project management plan. For example, staffing changes can generate requests for extending the schedule, increasing the budget, or reducing the scope. The change requests should be processed through the integrated change control system.

Updates to organizational process assets - Several kinds of organizational process assets can be updated as a result of project team management. Some are:
Performance appraisals - The project staff member that interacts with a project team member in a significant way can offer input to the performance appraisal for that team member.
• Templates and organization’s standard processes.
Lessons-learned database - The lessons-learned database should be updated with the lessons learned during team management, which can come from different areas that include the following:
o Issues and solutions in the issue log
o Special skills and competencies discovered during project work for the team members
o Successful and unsuccessful ground rules, conflict management techniques, and recognition events

Updates to the project management plan - Approved change requests and corrective actions can result in updates to the staffing management plan, which is a part of the project management plan. New role assignments, training plans, and reward decisions are some examples of updates.
Managing the project team is a complex task when the team members are accountable to both the project managers and the functional managers; for example, in a matrix organization. Effectively managing this dual relationship is critical to the success of the project and is therefore generally the responsibility of the project manager.


Prev: Developing the Project Team

Next: Motivating your Team

1 comment:

  1. I am looking for exactly PMP style exam, 5 to 10 full lenght 200Questions. Before I buy please confirm me. Further I was wondering if you have any sample questions on similar pattern for trial.

    ReplyDelete

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