4 minutes

Everybody working on a project has their role to play, and this includes the project manager. Indeed, while all employees are essential to a degree, the project manager is often the most essential.

If you’re the project manager, it’s your job to lead and guide the team throughout the task. You need to be able to help coordinate everything, and this means working closely with the team members involved.

Because employees are typically on the front line, they will have a lot of information and insight regarding the project and how it should be done. With this in mind, you should ask questions of your team to help them fully understand the scope of the work. As the project manager, below are just a few examples of questions you should ask.

1. Do you have any suggestions?

Some of your employees will likely have had past experience working on similar projects. This makes it a good idea to ask the team for any suggestions they might have on how to ensure the project is successful.

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Get the whole team involved so different employees can share their ideas with each other as well as with you. Use a video conferencing platform if necessary to get as many people involved as possible. Junior members of the team should also be involved even if they don’t have any suggestions to offer. This will help them to understand the processes better, which will help them better understand their role in the project. 

2. What do you need from me? 

The project manager is typically the one person in the team who can manage upward and get permissions and resources from the people in charge. Is video conferencing needed? Would digital signage help with project management? What about transportation? Are there enough people working on the project? These issues, and many more, are matters that you should be aware of so your team has what it needs and any barriers can be removed. 

If your team doesn’t have all it needs then productivity can be negatively impacted, and projects may even grind to a complete halt.

3. How long will tasks take?

Any project will have deadlines, and meeting deadlines is often imperative. In addition to the overall completion deadline, there will also need to be deadlines for various stages of the project. In many cases, some tasks will be dependent on the completion of other tasks, and it can take a delay in one process to bring everything else to a standstill. 

Also, ask if the deadlines set are realistic. You might otherwise end up putting your employees under a lot of necessary stress through no fault of their own. If the deadlines are not realistic you might need to consider reallocating staff from one task to another or maybe even taking on new staff.

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Don’t forget to use project management software to help you plan and organize with visuals like Gantt charts that help everybody understand the timeframes better.

4. Who is responsible for which tasks?

As the project manager, you must determine who is working on what. This is important because you need to be sure that every task has somebody working on it, and that the right people are working on the jobs that best suit their skills. 

Knowing who is responsible for what is also important when it comes to accountability. It’s not that you should be looking to get people in trouble if something goes wrong, but if a problem occurs, knowing who to approach is necessary to find out what went wrong and how it can be fixed. It’s also important when it comes to understanding processes thoroughly to help ensure they go as smoothly as possible. 

5. Who are the leaders on the team?

A project manager cannot be everywhere, so the rest of the team will need to spend a lot of the time working without you. However, there are likely to be leaders within the team who can help keep everything running on track. 

A leader should ideally be somebody who has experience in similar projects because they are more likely to know what to do if something goes wrong. When you have identified your leaders you can delegate responsibilities onto them to help you focus on other tasks. Be sure to check in with your leaders regularly to ensure everything is running as it should.

6. What could go wrong?

Things will sometimes go wrong even for the best-prepared teams. In many cases it will be down to external influences the team has no control over. In others, it will be down to internal issues that were easier to avoid.

As your front-line troops, some of your employees will have seen how things can sometimes go awry. Make the most of their knowledge and experience to try and put contingency plans in place in case things don’t go according to plan. This will help you keep everything headed in the right direction.

The takeaway

As a project manager, if you don’t ask your team about a project then you could be missing out on one of the most valuable resources you have – experience. Even though a project manager is likely to be experienced themselves, there can still be so much to draw from other people around them. Tapping into this experience and knowledge can help to ensure that any project you manage runs as smoothly as possible.

Photo by Airfocus