The Right Way to Manage Project Team!

Manage Team processManaging the project team is essentially all about solving problems that crop up in the team, analyzing performance of team members, giving them feedback, and motivating & encouraging them to do their job better.

Managing the team is a day-to-day job for the project manager testing her communication, and soft skills to the core.

We saw some of the powers that a PM enjoys and few motivational theories that a PM can work with.

Many of the conflicts in the team can be detrimental to project success, and there are few important techniques that can enable project managers handle conflicts with least amount of damage.

What do I need?

Resource management plan

For every project there needs to be a resource management plan. We’ve seen this how to prepare one, in this post. As we understand now, when we refer to resources, they include people as well as physical resources such as equipment, machinery, infrastructure, network setup, servers, tools and so on.

The resource management plan talks about methodology and policies to be used for acquiring and managing project team, in addition to the project organizational structure, roles and responsibilities of team members and staffing management plan, including ramp-up and ramp-down of team based on project needs.

We also refer to a bunch of project documents such as issue log that lists all issues that crop up in the team, and information such as who is responsible for resolving it, the time frame and so on. Lessons learned register is another important document that helps us understand how similar issues have been resolved in the past. Project team assignments document shows which team member is assigned to which task, whether part time or full time, their duration of availability on the project, their competencies and so on. Team charter then helps us understand how decisions are made in the project, how conflicts are resolved and so on.

In order to understand the performance of the team we need work performance measurements. This includes measurements from scope, schedule, scope, and cost control activities.

These are also used to take reward and recognition decisions, and make resource need forecasts.

The other information we need is the team performance assessments. This is used to ensure that team is doing its work well, and to identify any brewing issues and find their root causes such as communication, improperly assigned work, excess workload on key members, and so on.

One would also need all policies and templates related to educating and appreciating team members for their hard work, such as certificates of appreciation, bonus structures, intranets, and other perks.

How do I manage the team?

Observing team member at work and having conversations

This is the most frequently used and common method employed to understand how team members are working together and achieving project goals. Interpersonal, competency related, or requirements related issues are discovered during simple conversations with team members.

Team outings, informal lunches, coffee machine conversations, stopping-by-the-desk talks, formal feedback sessions, skip-level meetings, one-on-ones, team presentations, progress check sessions – all make for great occasions to understand how the team is doing.

Appraisal are more formal interaction with team members, to evaluate their performance on specific, predetermined and published characteristics specific to their jobs. This will also be the discussion where roles and responsibilities are clarified, constructive feedback is given, and their goals and aspirations are discussed.

As a project manager you will find it beneficial to try and create opportunities for people to meet their career goals. For instance, if your top senior engineer wants to be an architect, it helps to pair him with the architect on the team – both of them might be benefited with this arrangement.

The frequency and nature of appraisal discussion (formal/informal/semi-formal) is decided by the organization’s human resource policies, labor contract requirements, and even nature of work schedule. If it is a remote team (or virtual team) there might be more frequent appraisal discussions to make for loss of information that could have been gained by casual conversations at work place.

The project manager would need to develop few essential soft skills to manage team.

Conflict management skill

Conflict management is an interesting and important tool, it involves doing things to decrease negative aspects of conflicts and increase positive aspects, and find resolutions agreeable to all the parties involved in the conflict. Conflict management itself is an important topic for a lesson.

Read the techniques you need to know to mange conflicts effectively.

Decision making skill

Well, a project manager has to make several decisions on a daily basis. However, some of the decisions could by tricky and may impact in a positive or negative way for some of the stakeholders. And in order to come to a decision the PM needs to influence stakeholders and negotiate with them.

Finally, PMIS (project management information system) tool provides plenty of input for the PM to run the show. Monitoring schedule changes, resource utilization, and resource management capabilities are some of them.

What are the outcomes?

The thumb rule is data that comes as input, becomes information as output (when data is viewed in a context). And the information analyzed becomes actionable report. Thus Work performance information is one of the outputs of this process.

Change requests

Impact on schedule or costs due to employee attrition issues (bad performance or otherwise), may result in change requests. The changes to these baselines are to be done via Change Control management project management activity.

Also Read: Click here to read about complete list of these skills required for a project manager.

Changes to project management plan and documents

Change could be recommended to staffing management plan, human resource management plan or any other subsidiary plans based on what happens during managing the team. Also, documents such as issue log, project staff assignments and role description of profiles, or even to appraisal process (based on the feedback given to HR) can be updated/changed. Further to this, templates, policies, methodologies suggested by the organization may get updated as part of this project management activity.


Managing project team is probably one of the most challenging aspects of project management. This skill alone can determine the difference between a novice project manager and a seasoned one. If you have mastered this skill, congratulations, you are a much sought-after project manager!

The next process across process group in resource management knowledge area is Control resources. Let us then see how to control resources on the project.

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