Handling varied Performance of your Project Team

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Project teams and Rugby

I follow Wasps rugby team and regularly attend home games.  But was interested by the parallel between Dai Young’s (Wasps’ Coach) comments on the recent game and the common performance of project teams.

Wasps won this weekend but had a mixed performance.  There were some good patches and some real mistakes. The bottom line is that they won, for Dai Young’s Full Post on WASPs vs Sales Sharks (27 Nov 2016) click here


Variation in Performance.

While it is the project manager’s aim that the team perform well all the time; it is unrealistic to expect that to happen 100% of the time. Sickness, changing in key people and change in scope and circumstance will all have a place to play. There might be the Star performers that can always be relied upon if you are lucky. There can equally be those that make the same old mistakes. To overcome the highs and lows you need to keep the project team focused on the key goals.


Getting the result

If you can get the team to focus on the result and delivery effectively most of the time, then success is much more likely. In projects the customers need and the benefit that can be delivered are more important than admin that does not contribute to the project’s success. Controls still need to be in place. But finishing a project with a perfect plan and polished project charter, but a major shortfall in Customer expectation is not desirable. Working on the best possible outcome and using plans and other project controls to help you, rather than constrain you. But regardless of how polished your project governance is, you cannot deliver a project alone. Leading your team in the right way will get the best result. Good control, and well thought out governance will help you lead better and make more informed choices.


Best use of the Team

When the unexpected like the loss of key team members or change of scope hits, it is important to maintain the team focus. Adjust roles in ways that maintains the team’s performance. The team dynamics will change but in leading the project a project manager must allow the solid performers to do their own thing. While supporting and encouraging those that are unsure or just off their game for whatever reason.   Even if the team end up in the situation where all the necessary roles are not filled, it is possible to spread the cover and deliver if the team are behind you.


As a project manager if you can lead the team and win their trust you are better positioned to successfully complete the project. Much of sport and project management have common themes in getting the best from the team. I hope that Wasps continue their successful season. And that you too can deliver your project successfully with your team behind you.