Leading the Team

Kevin Kraft
Project management is a nice thought; however companies often see it strictly as a management function. Efficient management of projects is not to be taken lightly; the thin line between success and failure goes through every stage of the project.

One way to improve flexibility is by good preparation in the pre-development stages, nevertheless the ability to move information is just as important. Without the ability to move information within, project alteration during development turns into an impossible task. This is also applicable when it comes to company-wide management and leadership. Leadership and management go hand in hand, not only in the high ranks of the executive management, but also in project management. A good project manager needs to do much more than just balance resources or write documentation. An effective project manager realizes that in order to bring the whole team together, he or she needs to sometimes lead more than manage. This goes for all areas and departments involved in the project.

Technological advances have a constant influence on our business environment; smooth development is essential to keep in budget, meet deadlines and stay competitive. During the development stage, your team needs to be motivated and getting the most out of your every team member. There are many different techniques to motivate; the more motivated, the better the team will perform. Bonuses and other rewards will help to motivate and drive your team to meet deadlines. However, in order to really motivate your team, you need to come up with more than that. The true key to motivation is commitment – commitment to the organization and project. True commitment can only be achieved through involvement. No involvement, no commitment; a rule written in stone and not debatable.

Graphic designers, programmers, server administrators and all other team members are experts in their own area; some bring years of experience with them. Get all of your team members involved when planning the project. Include them in meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Yet it is important to remember that every person is different. Some need to spend some quiet time in order to concentrate, while others need to discuss their thoughts to develop their ideas. A very successful project leader starts his brainstorming sessions with this statement: Every idea is a good idea; it may just be for the wrong project.

The responsibilities of the development team go much further then the actual development. Lessons are learned, experiences are won, and mistakes are made – more and more companies realize the value of this information. Bring the development team together for a post-development meeting and discuss the project. Everybody needs to be respectful, especially when inefficiencies and mistakes are addressed. The information that can be harvested here will not only help team members to learn, but could also help others within the company to understand more about the project.

Since development of most projects will never truly be completed, such a meeting can also be used to discuss the follow-up tasks. Ideally, project management should also be involved in post-preparations – planning and organizing things such as employee training, support, maintenance and all the things that the project will need.

Remember that all changes will take time to show results, so be patient and stick with it. Improving project management is not like buying a car; it is more like growing tomatoes. It takes time and needs to be nurtured. There is not only ONE correct way to bring positive change. Mission statements, teambuilding events, rewards, deadlines and involvement are just a few areas that can make all the difference when leading your team through the project.

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