When You Are Not Meeting Targets
Watch this video to learn what you should do, when your team are not meeting their targets…
Hi, I am Devin Deen, Content Director at ProjectManager.com. Today, we are going to talk about what to do when your project team is not meeting their date or time targets.
Now, before I became a project manager, I was in the Marine Corps, and I had an expert pistol and rifle badge. Today, as a project manager, anytime my project team is not meeting their dates, I take them out and shoot them. No, seriously, there are a few more things that you can do which are a little bit more constructive.
First off, at the start of your projects, make sure your project team takes ownership and accountability for the task they have to deliver in the timeframes that you are asking them to do it. If you show them a project schedule, they all nod their head, “Yes, I can do that,” and they do not really take that accountability and take that emotional responsibility for the task, you can count nine times out of ten that you are going to be late in delivering your project and your team is not going to hit that time or date targets. Make sure at the start that they take ownership of the time and task estimates that you work through as a project team.
Now, when the project is underway, it is really important for you to have some techniques on how to detect the wheel-spin. There is nothing unique about this. We do it in our daily project stand-up meetings or our weekly meetings. You do it in your fortnightly steering committee meetings. It is an opportunity for you to inspect as a project manager what is going on, where the rubber meets the road.
You have to inspect, you have to inspect, and then you have to inspect a little bit more. That is one sure way to make sure that your project team does not miss their time and date targets.
So first off, at the start of the project, make sure they take ownership. Whilst the project is underway, know how you can detect the wheel-spin, and that is in your regular project meetings. Once you do detect a wheel-spin, though, I think it is important that you deal with that right away, and that is what the rest of this whiteboard session is going to talk about. It is going to talk about how you deal with that situation once you are in it.
First off, do not look away from it. If there is a problem with your project team member not meeting their expected time and date, you have to give them feedback immediately. It is the right thing to do, it is the morally courageous thing to do, and it is the best thing to do for that project team member.
You have to go up to them and sit them in a room one-on-one, isolated from the rest of the project team, and you ask that project team member, for example, “John, today is the fifth of December. You had a project deliverable that was due on the third of December. We are two days late. What is your take on that?”
Ask for them, invite them into the discussion. Invite them to take accountability for missing that date. If that person does not take accountability, you know that you have a real problem on your hands, something that is going to require a little bit more serious interaction.
If they do take accountability and say, “Yes, Devon, I screwed that one up. It was my choice to work on this small little change request instead of getting the major baseline release due. It will not happen again,” if that is the situation, if that is how that person handles it, then you know you have a true winner on your team and hopefully that will be the only misdemeanor that they commit on the project, but you have to give them that feedback immediately and make sure you do it one-on-one.
Get them to solve the problem. If you are pushing a solution onto that person, they may not take accountability for the way that it needs to be solved. Make sure that they come up to you with some ways of how to actually solve the problem and get the project back on track.
Now, as a project manager, you are there to actually deliver a project. You are there doing results management, not performance management, so when you have a team member who is repeatedly not meeting their time and date targets, make sure you can escalate it. Escalate that issue to their manager. Do not accommodate it. Do not enable it. You do not want to have to deal with it.
Your job is to get that project across the line on time, on budget, and to the quality and scope that has been required, so make sure if you have team members who are repeatedly committing misdemeanors on missing their time and date targets that you actually escalate it to their manager.
Just to sum it up in ways to make sure that your project team meets their time and date targets, at the start of your project, make sure they take ownership in the task and the timeframes that they have to deliver those tasks and deliverables, too.
Whilst the project is underway, make sure you as a project manager have ways to inspect it, inspect it and inspect it again. Lastly, if it does occur, if they do have a misdemeanor in not meeting their time and date targets, make sure you address that immediately.
With these tips, you should be able to keep a happy project team and not have to take anyone out the back and shoot them, like I have in the past.
For more whiteboard sessions and all your project manager needs, come see us at ProjectManager.com.