How to Manage Team Performance
Learn how to manage team performance by watching these top project management tips.
Hello. My name is Jennifer Whitt, Director of ProjectManager.com. Welcome to our whiteboard session today on managing your team’s performance. Well, I don’t know about you, but one of the worst jobs of a project manager is really having a performance review or managing your team’s performance. But it’s one of the most critical things that you as a project manager have to do to keep your team set up for success and your project on track.
When I walked through the doors of corporate America, I was shocked to learn, number one, what they called a team and number two the whole team performance, or the evaluation process. I was actually trained as a manager on the evaluation process of how I was to evaluate my team and it was horrible. I didn’t agree with it.
So, I incorporated seven tips that I learned from the sports world. I was in sports and I am a sports player myself. So, whether you play sports or had children, maybe some of you who have musical, artistic talents, things that you can draw from of things where you worked on a team, I suggest you incorporate those. But these are seven of my tips that I use to set everyone up for success.
So, number one, set targets. It’s easier for the team to know what they’re shooting for if you set targets. What are they aiming for? Not only as a team within your project, but individually.
Number two, conduct reviews on a regular and scheduled basis. I actually had them documented so everyone knows ahead of time when the reviews are going to happen, and on a regular basis. Not just waiting until the end, we’ve all waited until the end of a project or even a period of time within our organization where we were evaluated, only to learn at the end that you missed the target. Or maybe even, you didn’t even know what the target was that your group or organization or project manager was shooting for. So it’s important to know when the regular scheduled reviews are.
Number three, providing feedback, it’s uncomfortable for most of us when we have to provide feedback, whether it’s good or bad. Some people are uncomfortable in saying, “Hey, you did a great job,” or even remembering to let someone know, “You did a really good job on that,” or, “Wow, I see that you’re really improving on that.” But we all hate to give the bad feedback, right? Like, “Wow. Okay, I notice you’re really struggling with that,” or,
“You didn’t do so well on that.”
So providing feedback is a little difficult whether it’s positive or negative, but it’s a two-way street. So you as a project manager are providing feedback to your team members and getting feedback from them. Because, hey, we’re people as well, and we’re all trying to always improve our own efforts. So it’s best to ask the person feedback too, to let them know two important questions, “How can I support you?”
So you as a project manager want to ask your team members and your team collectively, as a whole, “How can I support you? What do you need to succeed?” Because if we do parallel sports or arts or any other kind of entertainment, for those of you who are artistic and musical or do any kind of performance, if you bring those concepts into the idea of your project teams, I think there’s a lot we can learn. So, with that, you’re a team working together. So, you want to know how to support people and how to make sure that they’re succeeding, right?
Track performance metrics, you want to know, what are we measuring? Have specific measures in place so you can measure that you’re actually improving and measure what you want to improve. A lot of times in organizations or projects, I see people have just extraneous metrics. Either no metrics at all, so nobody really knows what they’re striving for, or just arbitrary metrics just to say they have them, but they’re really not measuring the behaviors that they want to improve.
So it’s important to know, do you want to improve someone’s performance or knowledge on a certain topic? Do you want to decrease defects? Do you want to increase performance? So knowing the metrics and know what you’re trying to improve.
I love this one, celebrating successes, and it’s fun. How many times have you waited until the end of the project? Most of the times they’re deemed failed projects if you go according to the statistics where so many projects fail. So, you’re not really celebrating a whole lot for a failed project. But if you celebrate milestones along the way to reward your team,
“Hey, we did a great job. We met this milestone, so we want to celebrate,”
it’s a way to reinvigorate your team and special unexpected events.
Maybe sometimes you may have a customer, a client, maybe another organization or department give you accolades for something that one of your team members did or your team as a whole did. Well, you want to bring attention to that and celebrate. It adds fun. There are so many ways you can have fun.
Some people say, “Well, we can’t have fun. We can’t have parties because we don’t have a budget,” or, “We don’t have a way to spend things.” But there are so many ways that you can celebrate success without having a budget or spending a lot of money. Taking the team out to lunch and everyone just getting lunch together, bringing in a cake or – I don’t know – just doing something silly, maybe even taking a break is a way to celebrate for some people.
Reward team behavior. So, it’s this idea of rewarding the team versus the hero. If you are familiar with basketball and you’ve heard of Michael Jordan, a lot of people know of Michael Jordan. You may not even know the other people on his team, right? I mean he’s kind of the superstar. But his team, the team members, are just as important as Michael Jordan and his coach and his team collectively, they reward the team.
They realize that it’s the people who are doing the blocking, doing the passing, setting Michael Jordan up for the position that he needs to be in to make that shot. So, we want to reward the team and not a hero. If you’re rewarding the heroes, then you have heroes. It’s more about ego and it’s more about that person instead of the team. So, it’s important if you want a team performance and if you want to improve things as a team, you’ve got to reward the team behaviors.
Number seven is an important one. It’s probably one of the most difficult ones. But you need to release or bench poor performers. It’s the best way to reinvigorate your other team members. We’ve all been in those groups, right? You’ve seen that person where they’re the bad apple, maybe they’re struggling, maybe the organization or you as a project manager have them positioned in a role that they’re not trained for – they don’t have the experience for.
Number one, they get frustrated themselves and maybe they act out. Maybe it’s just not a great situation. So, whether it’s just a bad apple of someone who really doesn’t want to be on the team or they have a bad attitude and they’re disrupting the entire team, it’s best to address that and somehow get that person off the team. If you have the ability to release them, in my old role in some of the stories I give, I used to fire people off of my team or maybe transition them to another team or a project they’re a better fit for.
But it’s a good way to have the other team members excited, because that really ruins the attitudes of the other team members who are really trying. If you are on a sports team or again, performing, if you think of performers or musicians or a musical, you don’t keep the poor performers. If you think of pro sports, they select for talent. They want the A team.
So, a bonus that we have is if you think of your team, if you’re a superstar and you have the superstar team that you want to encourage, then select for talent. Go for the A team. Get each of your team members up to par. Support them in how and what they need to succeed.
So, the key words that I like to think of when I think of managing my team’s performance, I would prefer to mark that word out, substitute the word “managing” for one of these key words: “supporting your team’s performance”, “encouraging your team’s performance”, “energizing your team’s performance”, or “fueling your team’s performance”.
So if you incorporate these seven tips like I have, I’ve had the A teams on my projects and everyone has succeeded. If you need any tips, tools, or techniques to manage or better yet fuel your team’s performance and set everyone up for success, then visit us at projectmanager.com.