Project vs. Team Member Objectives

I have read an interesting statement about project objectives recently:

Question: “How does a successful Project Manager effectively communicate the vision and objectives of an organization to the project team?”
Answer: “Some of the most successful projects I have been involved with, both leading and as part of the project team, have also asked the team members what their own aims and objectives are.”

(The discussion took place in a closed group — I decided to remove the names of the authors in this case.)
project_team_individualAs project managers we aim to deliver expected results with focus on the following:

  1. Project objectives
  2. Team
  3. Individual members

Of course, one could argue we should consider all known constraints, knowledge areas or themes. Understood. There are many project-related aspects to juggle with, but the above focuses on a leadership perspective — overall project, team, individual members.

No. 1 — project objectives — is a no-brainer. We launch projects to “translate” business objectives into reality. To reach these objectives we form a team (no. 2), a team composed of individuals (no. 3).
When a project is launched teams and members are closely considered. With the deadline behind the corner, however, it’s common to neglect some of the PM’s team-related duties, the project manager is less likely to give team members enough attention. This is why I find the idea — to consider both project and team member objectives — useful throughout the project.

We might not need to communicate team member objectives in the same way as project objectives, but it helps to know them and return to them at regular intervals, e.g. team meetings or discussions with our colleagues.

“How do you understand the objectives of the project?”
“What are your personal goals related to this project?”
“What do you want to achieve as a member of our team?”

One can say that we should apply the same strategy for the project team as we do with other stakeholders — define attitude, influence, and expectations — objectives (among others). Moving a step further, i.e. keeping the team’s objectives closer to overall project objectives, might help us maintain stronger focus throughout the project.

Other suggestions:

  • Use the kick-off to communicate project objectives and their link to strategy (bottom-up), link to deliverables (top-down); use the occasion for the sponsor to endorse you, make you his or her representative
  • Put project objectives in a visible place throughout the project — board in meeting room, presentation / document templates, email signatures etc.
  • Repeat project objectives when possible / review at phase gates
  • No need to repeat that, I suppose — make sure project objectives are S.M.A.R.T., linked not only to deliverables (traceability), but also the business case

What are your favorite practices, techniques with regard to project and/or team objectives?

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