If you find yourself in that situation, my advice would be to look at strengthening your influencing skills and to build trust between you and the people you are managing. When you constantly have to chase someone to get work done it’s a sign that they feel more obliged to attend to someone else’s work or that they find other work more rewarding and interesting. To up your task on the priority list you need to strengthen trust and commitment and ensure that the work you give them is as interesting as possible for them.
How might you begin to do that? First of all you need to accept that your relationship with your team shouldn’t just be a transactional one. If you want to increase your influencing skills, you have to take a greater interest in the person you are asking to do work for you. Find out what he or she likes the most or the least about their job and see how you can use that to strengthen the bond between you and make the assignments you give them more interesting. Create a conversation and get to know people – even if they don’t report to you directly or if they work remotely. Trust is built and earned over time by listening, sharing, asking questions and by being honest and fair.
Involve people in the planning process
You can also build trust and strengthen commitment to the project’s goals by involving people in the planning process. When people are involved in defining and planning the project they understand why the project is important and what their role is in making it happen. How would you normally kick off a project and go about planning it? Do you tend to do it from behind your desk and by talking to people individually? Why not have a planning meeting where everyone participates – either in person or via video conference? Spend the meeting brainstorming everything that needs to get done on posted notes and create a milestone plan in collaboration. Discuss who owns each milestone and what the target dates are. This approach creates more transparency across the project and strengthens buy-in from all parties. Everyone likes clarity, and as a project manager you are in an ideal position to provide that.
Give people autonomy to do their work
Another thought I’d like to leave you with is that most people don’t want to be tightly managed or told what to do. They want to feel appreciated and have the autonomy to decide how to do their work. You won’t be able to provide people with ultimate autonomy, but you can avoid micro managing them by focusing on the objectives and outcomes of the work you give them. Agree with people what a good outcome looks like rather than defining how to do it – i.e. how will you be measuring that the task has been properly completed and how will you be measuring progress along the way? When you agree these parameters up front you make people feel part of the process and you strengthen buy-in to the project.
In conclusion, the way to avoid chasing people to get work done is to focus on developing trust through collaboration, inclusion and showing empathy.
If you liked this post, you may also like:
10 Tips for Handling Conflict
Creating a Highly Motivated Team
Overcoming Resistance to Change
What should you do in the first month to set yourself up for success?