Project LeadershipProject Management

3 Ways Project Managers Avoid Hounding People to Finish Work

Getting people outside your department to complete work for you should not look like a scene out of The Fugitive, with someone jumping off a dam to escape your wrath. Hounding kills enthusiasm, which kills a project. In a post at her blog, project leadership coach Susanne Madsen provides three better solutions that will make these outsiders happy to help you succeed:

  1. Build trust by taking an interest in people.
  2. Involve people in the planning process.
  3. Give people autonomy to do their work.

A Cycle of Trust

You cannot expect someone who does not report to you to instantly put your concerns at the top of his or her priority list. In order to make people invest in you, you have to likewise be willing to invest in them. Take an interest in people and how they feel about their role within the organization. Learn their likes and dislikes and try to pair this knowledge with how you introduce new tasks to them. Ultimately, a bond of trust will grow from the level of consideration that has been built.

Another way to get people more interested in helping you is to actively involve them in the planning process. They will quickly see why you find a given project to be important, and why it is important to the organization, which will likely increase their own level of commitment to the project. It is within your power as project manager to provide clarity to people far and wide, even if that means teleconferencing.

Finally, about autonomy, Madsen writes:

[People] want to feel appreciated and have the autonomy to decide how to do their work. You won’t be able to provide people with ultimate autonomy, but you can avoid micro managing them by focusing on the objectives and outcomes of the work you give them. Agree with people what a good outcome looks like rather than defining how to do it – i.e. how will you be measuring that the task has been properly completed and how will you be measuring progress along the way? When you agree these parameters up front you make people feel part of the process and you strengthen buy-in to the project.

Your Rottweiler is going to have a boring night, because there is no need to release the hounds with these tips. You can read Madsen’s original post here:

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