Posted by: Craig Harding | November 25, 2009

Providing Performance Feedback to Project Personnel

Some tasks are behind schedule, some resources are reporting lower than expected productivity, you are hearing about performance issues from the project team members. How would you as PM handle it, what would you do?

Providing Performance Feedback

It is safe to say that within most companies a major function of the Project Manager is to identify and remove roadblocks so that people who have the “R” (Responsible according to the RACI Chart) to do the work can do the work. Sometimes that requires us to look at our own performance.

 Providing both positive and negative feedback on the performance of your individual resources on assignment is an aspect of Human Resource Management, one of the critical PM disciplines. It is an important part of leading and developing your team.

 When you need to Provide Feedback on Performance

 Feedback is very important. Not only is the PM responsible for communicating progress to project sponsors and consulting management, but you are also responsible for informing the team and individual team members of the progress at regular intervals throughout the project. A PM must devote significant time to providing clear direction to team members, understanding their status and difficulties, and keeping them informed regarding the project and their role in it. This is most effective when good working relationships are maintained and the PM interacts routinely with each team member to review their efforts and personally confer on issues or challenges associated with progress. This is sometimes referred to as MBWA or “Management by Walking Around”.

In addition to providing ad hoc feedback to team members, the PM is usually also responsible for providing team members with formal evaluations of their performance on a periodic basis. These periodic evaluations provide feedback on the performance expected of the resource for their particular role on the project and for their title/level of consultant. The PM provides information about performance expectations, strengths, developmental opportunities, and ratings on specific competencies related to the resource’s role on the project. This documented feedback recognizes good performance and helps individuals identify areas where improvement is required.

Your Role in Providing Performance Feedback

 Once the project has been staffed, it is primarily your management of your resources that determines whether or not you are a success at the end of the project. The PM is the coach of the team and must:

  •  Lead and motivate team members to achieve maximum contributions
  •  Monitor the productivity of project team members through the effective use of productivity measurement tools
  •  Identify any performance issues
  •  Work with your resource management team to rectify the situation through mentoring, coaching, or other approved management processes.
  •  Participate in the periodic evaluation process to perform accurate evaluations of resource performance.

Teams typically go through a universal process as they develop within the project life cycle. They go from Forming to Storming to Norming, to Performing. If the leader can successfully diagnose what stage the team is in, the leader can help the team from getting stuck in the past by providing what is needed. At each stage, teams need something very specific from their leader.

  •  In the Forming stage – They need a clear vision, a picture of what success looks like.
  •  In the Storming stage – Let conflict rise to the surface, then clarify roles and support.
  •  In the Norming stage – Team members need feedback on whether their ideas and strategies for how to achieve goals are working or not.
  •  In the Performing stage – The leader needs to recognize and reinforce success through positive feedback.

The framework above can help you to see how important feedback is to the success of your team, especially in the later stages. When it comes to building a coherent working team timely and accurate performance feedback is essential. Remember to apply the following tips on performance feedback on your next project team:

  •  Performance issues are dealt with as soon as they are recognized and before they can negatively impact the project. 
  •  The feedback states clearly:
    •  What needs to be improved
    •  Why it needs to be improved
    •  How much and by when it needs to be improved (the “how” part of improving performance should be left up to the resource to the extent possible)

Cheers,

 Craig

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