People with diverse professional experiences and background have totally unique perspective on any issue. When a new team is assembled for any project, its vital for the success of that project that all team member are aware of the ground-rules for the project; similar to any sport. You may have to read it to team and give a copy for reference.
Here is an example list that I have used for a project to keep team aligned. Such ground-rules certainly eliminate unnecessary confusion and your business customer and team members like it defined beforehand. Make sure, you also follow it and implement it.
- Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
- All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
- All members attend required meetings and conference calls; if unable to attend, meeting organizer to be notified. If key contributor is unable to attend, request to reschedule the meeting.
- Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager so that project plan can be updated and impact to work, if any, can be analyzed.
- All project team members have access to project plan and project logs (in a standard document format) and are aware of the assigned tasks and due dates.
- All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
- All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
- All project team members have the responsibility to proactively notify the project manager about tasks, duration or dependencies they believe are missing (or any other needed changes to the plan) and confront issues directly and promptly.
- Project team members have the responsibility to notify any potential difficulties in meeting the schedule for any assigned tasks as soon as it is known by the team member.
- Each project team member is responsible for ensuring anticipated workload conflicts with other assignments are brought to the attention of the project manager. Team members should ask for help if feeling “stuck” or falling behind the schedule instead of waiting for miracle.
- All team members are responsible to own, follow-up and provide updates on the assigned task (including but not limited to any identified risks, issues, changes, approvals, clarification from customer). If any delay is observed, escalate to project manager.
- All meeting minutes, key decisions, assumptions and business rules must be documented and all action items must be followed up and assigned to a resource with expected completion date. These items are usually mentioned in casual conversation.
- All project team members understand the scope of work. Any work performed must be in the project plan and is in the project scope. Anything that is absolutely needed but not part of the project plan, must be brought into project manager’s attention.
- All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
- Only project manager submits all final deliverables to business customer for sign-off or approval.
What are other key things that you have found useful and we can add to this list?
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These are basically rules that the project leader/manager applies to the team. While they are not necessarily unreasonable, they do, IMO, miss the point for ground rules:
The weakest link in a team is its leader—and many project leaders are incompetent (in my personal experience, your mileage may vary). The most basic ground rules should tell the leader how he, not the team, should behave, what errors he must avoid, how to approach the team, etc.
A good starting point is the guide-line for physicians: Above all, do no harm. Others, off the top of my head, include “pay attention to your due diligence” and “read up on what you are supposed to know” (be it regarding project management in general or topics relating to the current project in particular). If project leaders were just to avoid the most destructive and amateurish errors, those discussed even in introductory texts on project management, half the project failures I have seen could have been avoided.
I disagree with the above commenter that the manager is “the weakest link”. It’s anecdotal at best.
I think project team ground rules should be rules that apply to ALL EQUALLY. I don’t think the team leader should somehow be singled out or have special rules for dealing with others on the team.
However, I do think the fifteen rules above do miss the necessary TEAM-orientation too. Not as much as the comment, but still present. For example, “Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager…” should read “Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project team…”
But, the list is nice in that it contains practical, tactical rules. Not the usual vapid, obvious statements like “Be respectful” or “Don’t interrupt.” It’s like when the stewardess wastes your time telling you how to operate a seat belt. 🙂
Thank you to both of you for the valuable input and taking the time to share your thoughts. With global teams, many times people joining and leaving projects plus the diverse cultures, having a project manager as the hub and team members as spokes makes the sense. I have always maintained the view that succession planning is of importance, so backup of project manager is always there. We, in a team, evolve with the strengths and weeknesses of its members.