There’s a tendency among some project leaders not to share information with their team. They hold onto it and only dole out what they deem necessary. It’s understandable. They’ve worked hard to create these plans and don’t want to have them muddled in execution.
But such actions are counterproductive to the project. They cut off your most valuable resource: your team. By engaging your team throughout the lifecycle of the project, you’re unleashing potential to catch problems before they even start and improve productivity to boot.
So, how do you you fully engage your team? You can use project management software to help them help you with:
- Workload improvements
- Eliminating roadblocks
- Deliverability Rates
- Better communications
- Reporting accuracy
When you invite your team to participate in all parts of the project, not just their particular task lists, you unleash the potential of your team.
But First, Remember, You’re Part of the Team
To be truly successful as a project leader, what you need is a more collaborative environment where you see yourself as a part of the team, not just a figurehead who manages from the top down.
To do this, start by making sure everyone is using a collaborative project management software tool. It’s the way you can improving communications in the information age. Inviting your team to the PM tool is asking for input from your team. They’re on the front lines of the project and can offer insights you might be blind to.
A collaboration tool will allow you to be transparent, share information, while using policies and guidelines to manage how you share that data. Online project management tools allows your team to collaborate with you, communicate better and facilitate information sharing easily and quickly.
But more than “just communication”, there are several key areas where tangible productivity gains can be met through the full use of your PM tools:
Improve Workload Management
If you’re not fully engaging your team, then you run the risk of tasks not being completed. It might have something to do with your workload management. It’s critical that you balance your team’s workload so that you’ve not scattered too many people over too many tasks or projects.
Start by looking over your resource allocation tools in your project management software and review their current workload. You want a tool that lets you re-allocate tasks easily. You can also create resource management reports and see who is working on what task. Now you can identify those people who have too much on their plate and those who’s tasks are completed and have time to help on other tasks.
Don’t neglect sharing these reports with your team. Let them have a window into the workload, so they can see when they’re falling behind and regulate their own tasks. It provides a sense of ownership in the project that can only help make them more efficient.
And you shouldn’t forget to account for your team’s schedule, something you can easily do by accessing the shared calendar on your project management software. While you’re doing this revisit their skill sets and if they’re not up to snuff, invest in training or recruiting team members who have the skills you need. Then you can adjust your assignments to balance out the workload equally.
Another area to explore is task dependencies. There are certain tasks in any project that are dependent on other tasks, and if those other tasks have not been completed then the project grinds to a halt. To avoid these roadblocks you’ll want more engagement from you team, which means you’re going to need more visibility in your project.
How? Online Gantt charts can support team engagement, if they have collaboration and interactive features. An online Gantt chart can take your project data and make it simple and easily digestible for your whole team, so they can clearly see and share where their tasks have dependencies and which due dates are likely to be impacted by an external or internal roadblocks that you might not be aware of. With this knowledge you can begin to address these problems and provide viable solutions to resolve them.
Online Gantt charts can also support task-level file-sharing and discussions, so your team can drill into each task to see when there are attachments or comments related to that task.
Don’t play those Gantt charts close to the vest, be open and transparent with them. Make sure your team has access to the Gantt.
Improve Deliverability Rates
If your team is not engaged, then the project will slow down. The obvious cure is to get better delivery rates. Easier said than done, right? Yes, but there are ways in which you can use the tools in your project management software to automate the process.
Be sure to also set up email alerts, so your team gets reminded when project and task updates occur. Alerts are just one of the many project management software tricks available when you invite your team to the online project tools.
You can set up notifications to tell you and the team when something happens or if a task has been completed, started or overdue. Make sure your process communications let your team know to not ignore alerts. Alerts can be turned on and off in most software programs by the user, so you’ll want to make sure it’s expected that your team will pay attention to those email communications.
Be flexible, however. Some people use email differently than others. Support their use of integrations that enable them to convert email alerts into text alerts or phone notifications.
Communications is not merely a skill of leaders, it’s the foundation of a successful team. You need to have systems in place to make communications simple, fast and efficient. You just need to use all the tools at your disposal.
With collaborative project management software you can have task-level discussions right in the Gantt, as we mentioned above. But there are more ways to keep project communications together, so there’s no need for another window or program to jump back and forth to and from. By supporting your team’s discussions within the tool’s integrated chat feature, there are numerous benefits:
- Visibility – everyone can see what everyone is working on and when they might need to jump into a conversation
- Project Updates – everyone gets notified when important project milestones are met
- Stakeholder Communications Improved – threads with clients and stakeholders can stay with the project, not get lost in email
- Document Sharing – Docs and files can be added/stored in the tool and discussions had around them.
- Efficiency Improved – No more time lost to email searches for docs, conversations or project updates
Communications must be monitored, of course, which is easy and more efficient when contained within your project management software.
As a project leader you have a responsibility to keep your stakeholders informed of the progress or problems of the project. But your team can help, too. Again, your best defense against outdated data is engaging your team with the online project management software.
When your team performs their task updates and project communications through the tool, then you know your data is up-to-date. If your team is reporting to you weekly on their progress, and then you input all that data into your private PM tool, then the data is already a week old.
With online project management tools, you can find real-time dashboards constantly being updated with real-time team data to provide a snapshot of your project performance. You can use real-time dashboards as key data in your status report presentations. Stakeholders generally are impressed by the freshness of the data and the easy-to-understand graphical charts.
Of course, you can also generate reports with the click of a key stroke with online PM software, and you know that the data will be up-to-date there, as well.
There are four different types of project reports, from the status and risk reports to the board or executive and resources reports, and all of these can be generated from your dashboard. Even better, your project management software will customize those reports to reflect the information you want to get across.
There are many reasons why a project may be lagging, probably as many reasons as there are projects, but if you follow these team engagement tips you’ll be able to help your team help you with keeping your project running smoothly.
The great thing about ProjectManager.com is how robust its set of tools are and yet how easy to use for your team. All of the features listed above are included in the software suite, including the dashboard that gives you an overview of them all in real-time. To see if these features are right for you and your project, take a free 30-day trial by clicking on the banner below.