Putting people in a position to succeed

The main goal of any project manager is to put people in a position to succeed. This sounds simple enough, but it requires a great deal of energy/commitment to make it happen.

Project Team

Your project team relies on you to put them in a position to succeed. If you do not do your job, then they will not be able to perform their job at a satisfactory level. How can you put your team in a position to succeed?

  • Assemble the right team – having people play out of position will hurt the efforts of all involved. Do your team during project initiation to assemble a team that has the right skills/motivations. This will allow people to focus on the tasks that they are most likely to succeed on.
  • Ensure adequate training/ramp-up – similar to finding the right people, you need to make sure that people on the project are oriented/trained on any relevant project specifics. This will help them to hit the ground running.
  • Fight for adequate timelines – we all know that this is easier said than done, but fighting for adequate time will allow your team to create a solid product without having to cut corners or sacrifice quality. It will also help to maintain a work-life balance which makes the team happier and ultimately more productive.
  • Fight rampant scope creep – all projects have scope creep and we need to get used to this. As a project progresses, the true requirements often become clearer and allows us to build something that the stakeholders truly need. However, wildly changing requirements require that teams perform constant re-work and this can lead to quality suffering. Do your best to work with the team and stakeholders to allow some requirements modifications throughout the process while trying to maintain some semblance of baseline.
  • Be a buffer – your team needs to be focused on moving the project forward. As such, they will not have time to attend meeting after meeting or deal with every stakeholder inquiry/complaint. It is your job to manage communication with external stakeholders and shield your team from distractions.
  • Be a cheerleader – brag about your team whenever possible. Your team is working hard for you and in many organizations their line manager may not be aware of their contributions. Brag about their hard work and successes in both informal and formal ways. It will boost morale and will help your team succeed within the company.


  • Define their expectations for the project – what does success look like? If you can work with the stakeholders to answer this simple question, then you can work with the team to achieve this goal. Many projects are begun without a clear understanding of the problem to be solved or the opportunity to be seized. Knowing the high-level picture allows you and the team to focus your energy on the points of highest ROI.
  • Define your expectations for them – Stakeholders are not passive observers on successful projects. As such, you need to let them know what you need of them. Let them know that they are responsible for being available for requirements clarification, product reviews, and to answer any questions you or the team may have.
  • Communicate often – Your stakeholders are often personally responsible/accountable for the project and they need to know how it is going. This is vitally important when they are queried on the project by their bosses or stakeholder. You need to make sure that your stakeholders are keenly aware of the project status. This involves both the good news and bad news. Provide them with regular status updates and be sure to alert them of any major events/issues. Do whatever it takes to make sure your stakeholders aren’t blindsided by any aspects of your project.

By following the above tips, you help your project be a success…and when your project is a success, you succeed!

These are just a few of the ways in which you can help your team succeed. How do you go about putting your team in a position to succeed?

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