We’re going to talk about how you can lead your project team without having authority.
As a project manager, you often are not the boss of the members in your project team. So that means you don’t have authority over them and cannot tell them what to do. The only thing you can do is work with them together as a team and try to motivate them as much as possible to contribute to your projects.
Make sure your project stays on track
And this can be a challenge, especially if project team members are overloaded. It becomes a problem if they are too busy and don’t have time to work on your project deliverables.
But you can do a few things to make sure your project stays on track, and you don’t lose time along the way.
First thing you can do is offer clarity and overview to your project team. This means that they know exactly what they need to do and when they need to deliver it. That means that you need to give them an overview of all the activities that are related to your project, for which they are responsible.
Appoint Responsible persons and Deadline
Also indicate when they need to finish their deliverable in the project. Here’s how you can do this. In project team meetings, you show them the action list. And you go through all the actions one by one. Appointing the person that’s responsible, and also indicating when that deliverable needs to be finished.
Ask them if this date is feasible. And if they say no, then try to find a way with the team to make it happen. Help your team members to make sure that deliverables are finished on time. It creates a feeling of teamwork, and it makes it easier for the person on your project team to indicate it to you when they see a problem coming up.
Pro-actively avoiding delay
Act proactively to make sure that deliverables are not delayed. Don’t wait checking up on deliverables until the project team meeting takes place or until the deadline. But ask every week how it’s going. If need for some project team members, you can speak with them separately. Swing by their desk or schedule a video call with them to see if you can help them stay on track.
If there is an issue that hampers them from delivering in your project, it’s important to understand the reason.
Maybe your team member has other priorities or priorities have changed on management level and your project has moved down the ladder.
Always try to keep on speaking terms with all your project team members.
Create overview, structure and lead your team on a weekly basis
By creating overview, structure and lead your team on a weekly basis you provide clarity.
Going over all the action points in detail with all your team members is very important to stay in the loop and make sure your project stays on track.
Another thing you can do is to communicate the overall project planning every week.
Show your team members in exactly what phase the project is right now and when the important deadlines are coming up.
This creates awareness of the urgency of your project. It makes them aware that they need to work on their deliverables and cannot push them backwards anymore.
Escalate issues with direct reports when needed
If you have provided clarity and overview, discussed the deliverables in your weekly team meeting, but still you have issues in getting their work done, it’s time to schedule a one-on-one with team members that are not performing. Try to communicate with them on the same level and be empathetic to their situation. Offer them your help.
Of course, you shouldn’t take over their responsibility but find a solution together if they face any issues. If that doesn’t work, and you still have a team member that doesn’t perform, it’s time to have a meeting with their manager included.
Communicate clearly and provide transparency
Tell them on beforehand, that you’re going to schedule a meeting with their boss.
That you’re going to talk about why this is happening. Because the project is affected by their nonperformance. And we cannot let that happen, of course. You are, as project manager, responsible for delivering your projects on time and within budget.
And you if you have a project team member, that’s not performing and hampering the process, then you need to tackle it.
In this case it’s time for a meeting with your team member and his boss.
Get help if you’re stuck
If that still doesn’t work, then the third solution would be to switch team members and to request someone else to join your team. Always be transparent, also to your own boss, and to other stakeholders of the management of the business. It can be product issues, technical issues, but it can also be human resource issues that are critical in your project. Perhaps the head of the project management department can help you with that
How a Product Development Process can help you
Or if you are a business owner yourself, you should also be very transparent with your people and how you want things to run. What can help you with this is creating a clear project management process and use templates to manage your projects to provide structure and be in control.
If you have a product development process implemented in your business, within that process, you have sub processes for the different disciplines. These sub processes describe what they need to deliver when, and that should be part of their task, if they participate in a project team.
You can use these processes and procedures to explain to your team members what is expected of them. In this way you can you make sure you support them in any way you can.
These are a few tips how you can lead your project team without authority.
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