Development Cooperation Handbook/How do we manage the human resources of programmes and projects?/Manage the Performance of Project Team Members

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Swiss sknife.png Steps and Tools

Manage the Project Team Employee Performance management

integrate with motivate the project team

see also Manage contracts with employees and assign tasks

Guideline: Measures to make teams more performing

In order to successfully meet the needs of a programme/project, it is important to have a high-performing Project Team made up of individuals who are both technically skilled and motivated to contribute to the project’s outcome. One of the many responsibilities of a Project Manager is to enhance the ability of each Project Team member to contribute to the project, while also fostering individual growth and accomplishment. At the same time, each individual must be encouraged to share ideas and work with others toward a common goal. Through the evaluation of the performance the manager will get the information she needs in order to Ensure that the team has adequate knowledge, Establish a Positive Team Environment and a Healthy Communication Climate, Work Properly and Ensure Accountability (thereby fulfilling the basic requirement for an employee empowering organization).

Managing of the project team includes appraisal of employee performance and project performance! The performance reports give the basis for managerial decisions on how to mange the project team. So there is a reiforcing cycle between performance appraisal and performance management of the same nature (but at a different level) of the relationship between execution and evaluation of project (see the cycle approach)  

Groupwork Activity, Baghlan, 2011

Employee performance includes the employee’s work results such as quality or quantity of outputs, work behavior (such as punctuality) job-related attributes (such as cooperation and initiative). After conducting employee performance reviews managers should: provide feedback to employees about how well they have performed on established goals. provide feedback to employees about areas in which the subordinate is weak or could do better. take corrective action to address problems with employees performing at or below the minimum expectations.  reward superior performers to encourage their continued excellence. Guideline: Effective communication skills for the appraisal interview See Varieties of performance review: Immediate-supervisor, Self-review, Peer review Subordinate review, Appraisal by beneficiaries, 360º performance appraisals

Guideline: Measures to make teams more performing In order to successfully meet the needs of a project, it is important to have a high-performing Project Team made up of individuals who are both technically skilled and motivated to contribute to the project’s outcome. One of the many responsibilities of a Project Manager is to enhance the ability of each Project Team member to contribute to the project, while also fostering individual growth and accomplishment. At the same time, each individual must be encouraged to share ideas and work with others toward a common goal. The Project Manager, then, must be a leader, communicator, negotiator, influencer, and problem solver! The level of skills and competencies to successfully fill these roles helps distinguish good Project Managers from great ones. (see Required characteristics of the project manager)   See the 5 steps of team creation To maximize the successful performance of the Project Team, the Project Manager must do the following: Ensure that the team has adequate knowledge. Even if there is no formal Team Training Plan the PM should evaluate the skills of each team member and determine whether he/she met the current and future needs of the project and raise the capacity of the human resources of the organization to manage successfully their task and contribute to the generation of a healthy communication climate within the organization and with external stakeholders. (thereby fulfilling the basic requirement for an employee empowering organization). If new team members have joined the project since the Training Plan was established, the Project Manager must evaluate the skill level of the new members to determine if additional training is needed.  In all cases, training tasks must be added to or removed from both the Training Plan and the Project Schedule, since they will affect the end date of the project.  Identify the need and the scope to raise the capacity of the human resources of the organization to manage successfully their task and contribute to the generation of a healthy communication climate within the organization and with external stakeholders. (see Learning and Feedback) Establish a Positive Team Environment and a Healthy Communication Climate Project Team members must learn to work together to achieve project goals. They must recognize that there is more to teamwork than simply having team members feel good about each other. High-performing Project Teams are disciplined. Team members participate in all required meetings, are willing to suppress their egos for the good of the group, take their assigned tasks seriously, and continuously strive to improve their skills. High-performing Project Teams are either empowered to make decisions or are included in decision-making processes. This is the essence of project ownership. Project Managers must develop sufficient management competencies to be able to create an environment that encourages team members to excel.  (See also motivate the project team; communication climate). While there are many process functions in teams, three stand out as particularly important – maximizing participation, managing influence styles, and handling conflict. All three of these require a core skill --- listening. Listening includes giving your undivided attention to others as they speak and not thinking about what you will say when it is your turn to talk. It is also taking the time to check that you agree that what they said is what you heard. Paraphrasing their comments, asking clarifying questions, and giving individuals credit for the contributions verbally in the group all demonstrate effective listening skill. (See Building a Climate of Trust;  Encouraging Openness;  Team Conflict Management; Decision Making in Groups.) Work Properly and Ensure Accountability  A basic responsibility of the Project Manager is to assign work to the Project Team and ensure that the work is completed according to the Project Schedule. The Project Manager (or Team Leaders if the project is large) is responsible for allocating tasks to appropriate team members at the appropriate times. A good Project Manager establishes and maintains a Project Schedule that minimizes team member down time. Along with the Team Leaders, the Project Manager must continuously communicate to each member of the team what is required and by when, and then manage the performance of each team member in meeting the requirements. Since the Project Manager is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a project, he/she must direct Project Team endeavors and encourage team members to be accountable for their work. Accountability should be formally documented and measured through the use of team member Progress Reports. (See Figure 4-4, the New York State Progress Report.) But the Project Manager must also be willing to communicate face-toface with the Project Team. Regular personal communication is one of the most effective ways to gather input on the status of project activities, discuss issues and concerns, recognize good work, encourage and provide support to team members who are struggling, and build relationships. It is also one of the primary ways to discover and take action to resolve team member. (see  performance issues. (see Middle Management Capabilities, Empowerment and Accountability) Getting work done in teams requires managing both the task (what we do) and the process (how we do it). Some of the task related functions include fair work distribution. This is important because team members would like to think the work is fairly shared.  Because effective teams also share in the rewards, unfair allocation of work will affect the team in a negative way.

Attention: do not confuse reviewing employee performance with project performance! 

When monitoring and reporting the employee performance you are comparing what the individual employee has achieved and what the individual was supposed to achieve (on the basis of the agreed employee performance objectives. When monitoring and reporting the project performance you are comparing: what the team implementing a project plan has achieved (in terms of reaching the expected milestones and deliver the expected project outputs within the decided schedule and budget definitions) and the expected achievements as stated in the project plan document.

Communicating within the Team Internal communication within the project teams is to meet their four major communication needs: Responsibility of each team member for different parts of the project Coordination information that enables team members to work together efficiently Status information tracking the progress, identifying problems and enabling team members to take corrective action Authorization information - decisions made by beneficiaries, sponsors, and upper management - that relates to the project and its project/programme purpose environment, and enables the team members to keep all project decisions synchronized. Internal communications happen primarily through team meetings, memos, voice mail, and e-mail. Project managers need to be able to write, speak, and listen well, lead meetings and resolve conflicts effectively.  See also Project communication management)

Give feed backs After cunducting employee performance reviews a fundamental step for Performance management is to providing feedback and to coaching employees to higher levels of performance so they achieve their potential. Besides written responses to written self evaluations (like monthly performance report), it is opportune to hold one-to-one meeting to discuss the ‘3 P’s’– progress, priorities and problems on the basis of the preioulsly submitted reports.

Some managers and employees are ambivalent about the performance appraisal interview and avoid providing negative feedback overtly. Managers uncomfortable with providing criticism sometimes provide it between heavy doses of positive feedback and make only vague comments. They also may bury in small talk or humor, communicating negative feedback obliquely. The discomfort felt by the evaluators manifests itself in avoidance behaviors that obscure the message and merely skims the surface of performance appraisal. When receiving negative feedback, subordinates may become defensive as they feel their self-esteem threatened. They may try blaming their deficient performance on others or on external factors. They may minimize the importance of the appraisal, question the validity of the evaluation or may too readily agree to the feedback while internally denying its accuracy. The solution to managing reactions is to train managers how to conduct constructive feedback sessions. In an effective interview, the employee perceives the appraisal as fair, the manager as sincere and the climate as constructive. Therefore, the employee is more likely to leave the interview informed about his or her performance and how to improve and determined to correct deficiencies. When providing feedback, managers should focus on the employee’s behaviors, not personality. Summarizing an employee’s performance by labeling him or her as “lazy,” for example, is not helpful and will lead to defensiveness. It is more beneficial to focus on what a person does rather than what that person seems to be. Checklist for Identifying Performance Problems After reviewing the employee performance a fundamental step for Performance management is to providing feedback and to coaching employees to higher levels of performance so they achieve their potential. Besides written responses to written self evaluations (like monthly performance report), it is opportune to hold one-to-one meeting to discuss the ‘3 P’s’– progress, priorities and problems on the basis of the previously submitted reports.   Guideline: Effective communication skills for the appraisal interview

Reactions to Performance Appraisals Some managers and employees are ambivalent about the performance appraisal interview and avoid providing negative feedback overtly. Managers uncomfortable with providing criticism sometimes provide it between heavy doses of positive feedback and make only vague comments. They also may bury in small talk or humor, communicating negative feedback obliquely. The discomfort felt by the evaluators manifests itself in avoidance behaviors that obscure the message and merely skims the surface of performance appraisal.   When receiving negative feedback, subordinates may become defensive as they feel their self-esteem threatened. They may try blaming their deficient performance on others or on external factors. They may minimize the importance of the appraisal, question the validity of the evaluation or may too readily agree to the feedback while internally denying its accuracy.   The solution to managing reactions is to train managers how to conduct constructive feedback sessions. In an effective interview, the employee perceives the appraisal as fair, the manager as sincere and the climate as constructive. Therefore, the employee is more likely to leave the interview informed about his or her performance and how to improve and determined to correct deficiencies. When providing feedback, managers should focus on the employee’s behaviors, not personality. Summarizing an employee’s performance by labeling him or her as “lazy,” for example, is not helpful and will lead to defensiveness. It is more beneficial to focus on what a person does rather than what that person seems to be.  

Exploring the cause of performance problems When supervisors detect poor performance, they need to explore the causes of the problems. Managers should accurately identify the causes of poor performance because the determination affects performance evaluations, can be a source of unspoken conflict and determines the appropriate solution.  A supervisor will evaluate an employee differently if the supervisor realizes that poor performance in a specific instance resulted from the employee not having the proper resources versus not trying hard enough. Furthermore, tension can develop when employees and managers have significantly different perceptions of why goals were not met. Managers should consider ability, motivation and situational factors when determining why there have been performance deficiencies. All three factors influence an employee’s performance. Ability includes an employee’s talents and knowledge. And situational factors are organizational characteristics such as training, resources and information that can help or hinder performance. Guideline: Measures to make teams more performing Checklist for Identifying Performance Problems See more in: Underperforming Employees: Warning Signs and Management Responses Middle Management Capabilities, Empowerment and Accountability -