I recently had a colleague ask me “How do I effectively hold people accountable to their assigned tasks when they’re repeat offenders of not getting them done? Especially when they have a key skill-set and are vital to the project and we HAVE to have them on board and working.” This is a great question and a common issue I often hear from project managers–especially from project managers who don’t have authority in their project environments. Does this sound familiar?
My first question in this situation is, have you talked with this team member? What is their mindset in doing the job? Depending on their attitude, you’ll handle the situation differently. Here are a few recommendations.
- Are they apathetic and not interested in doing well? If you have a team member who doesn’t care, you first need to make sure the team member understands their role, their tasks and the end result of the project. If they have clear objectives and this is documented and they still aren’t interested, you’ll start to get into HR issues and documenting poor performance. You’ll need to work with an authorized person to document and prepare to hire a replacement. Someone who is not committed and not willing to contribute does no good for anyone and should be removed from the entire situation according to documentation and policies.
- Are they angry and disgruntled? Why? Again, you first need to make sure the team member understands their role, their tasks and the end result of the project. If they have clear objectives and this is documented and they still are not willing to commit and contribute, see the recommendation listed above.
- Are they going through some personal issues? If this is the case, a shoulder to lean on and an ear to bend, can go a long way. If they don’t want to discuss what is getting in the way of their work, again, you will need to make sure the team member understands their role, their tasks and the end result of the project. They need to be aware that their actions are causing issues with the project. Be specific so they can potentially offer solutions to get things back on track. Ask for timelines when they expect they can address things and get back on track with their expected tasks. Document and track the results and show this to the team member so that can see how things are going. Being clear about what is being missed or what is not happening as expected is crucial. Clear communication (and documentation) will help to get things cleaned up. Checking in often with this person and asking if help is needed would be beneficial to this person as well.
- Are they trying and want to succeed but are running into issues that prevent them from succeeding? In this scenario, communication will again be key. Asking what is blocking this person from getting their tasks done as expected? Do they have the right tools? Did they not see the due date? Is it posted somewhere that they can look? Were dates and assignments reviewed as a team? Was the task placed on their calendar when it was due? Is it documented specifically on what they are to work, how to do it and what tools need to be used (if necessary)?
In all these cases, documentation, clear communication and consistency are extremely important. Notice the first question is “Does the team member understand their role, their tasks and the overall project?” This can be accomplished through centralized placement of documentation and recurring meetings to review documentation. Are you meeting with your team often enough to keep the project in a forward motion? This will also allow you to take the temperature of the team members attitudes and allow you to approach the situation most effectively.
Do you have any other project questions we could offer advice regarding? Please let us know!