With that in mind, the project manager should be able to go into the engagement with absolute expectations of his project team members. These things should just be understood. There should be no explanation needed at the beginning of the project, no rules set forth, no guidelines that need to be established concerning their conduct. It should just be understood. Project managers are often stretched thin running five or six engagements at a time. Likewise, project team members are also often over loaded with two or three simultaneous projects. Being stretched that thin means you have to expect that certain things will happen without taking the lengthy time it takes to explain everything and lay out all of the ground rules at the beginning of each project. What follows is a discussion of five ‘unspoken’ key items that the project manager should be able to just expect from his team members on an engagement because of the experienced, skilled professionals that they are.
Honest, straightforward communication
The project manager should expect honesty and integrity from all project team members. Likewise, all communication should be forthright and honest. The project manager should never have to ‘dig’ for information from the project team. On some engagements, the information project team members have is integral input into timely decisions that must be made. Collaboration on the project is critical so the timely sharing of information is very important. The project manager should set that in motion at the beginning of the project by establishing a formal communication plan that everyone agrees to and understands. After that, the expectation should always be that those communication plans will be followed and key information shared on the project team and with the project manager at all times.
Ability to follow direction and submit to authority
The project team is comprised of skilled professionals. Their ability to take and follow direction from their superiors – in this case the project manager – should be understand and should never have to be explained or questioned. That said, the team members should not be blindly following their leader – there are enough project managers out there who aren’t quite up to the leadership task and sometimes make poor decisions. The project team members’ responsibility is to question decisions and assignments when absolutely necessary, but in general to follow the project manager’s lead and perform as expected on assigned tasks.
No project manager should expect that any of his team members need to be micro-managed. They have the skills to get the job done – that’s why they are in the position they are in – and why they were chosen to work on the project in the first place. No project manager has the time to interact constantly with the many resources they are overseeing on the multiple projects they are managing.
Make decisions and act upon them
Many project team members are working critical tasks for the project and interacting with the customer and customer team resources on an ongoing basis. During their daily efforts on their project tasks, there are decisions that have to be made in order to successfully move forward. It’s understandable that key decisions that can have a significant impact on the project’s success and direction should be made by the project manager with input from most or all of the team and possibly senior management. However, there is a certain level of expectation that the project manager should have of the team resources to be able to make good decisions for the project on the fly and act upon them in order to ensure forward progress is being made and unnecessary project delays are avoided.
Be a good representative for the project and the company to the customer
Finally, the project manager – and the senior management of the organization – should always be able to expect that the project team resources are doing their best to represent the company in a positive light. The team must remain a cohesive unit on the project and represent their organization in the most positive sense at all times. Speaking poorly of the organization or the project to the customer only leads to customer concerns and loss of confidence. It is critical that the project, the team, and the company always be represented professionally by all project team members.