Managing High Performance Individuals

managing high performance individualsAs a project manager, you have probably been lucky enough to manage high performance individuals on your project team. While in most cases having those individuals on your team can be a fantastic asset and addition, sometimes they can present a special set of challenges.  As I work with multiple clients and juggle a multitude of projects at the same time, I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people. All of my clients have their own strengths and some fell into this category.

In order to prevent unnecessary conflict with other members of the team and to provide direction to your rockstar, they require structure and direction. I have found that during the personnel planning process, it is important to put the right people into the right spots. As you are filling up your roster, you need to assess the ability of everyone to be a team player and contributing to the overall goal of your project. If one of the individuals you are considering for a project does not normally work with you, speak with their supervisor about their strengths. Keep your conversation positive to set the tone early in your project. I follow one simple rule when talking with someone about another person– the details about your conversation will always get back to the person who is not present. That saves me a ton of headaches. Also talk with the person you are going to recruit and get a feeling for them and their personality.

Once you have the right people in the right spots, there are three steps that can help keep your team on track to meeting benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPI). The steps are simple and integral to the planning process that accompanies a formalized professional project management process, but they are worth mentioning as they will provide the structure required to help you provide the proper level of leadership and management for your team.

  1. Provide clear project objectives, goals, and KPI. While this is a pretty basic step of project planning, you need to make sure and communicate those to everyone on your team. They all need to clearly understand not only their roles, but they need to also understand their responsibilities and how they fit into the overall picture.
  2. Provide task details and deadlines through the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS will serve as the blueprint for your team members as to how they will achieve the project objectives, meet the KPI, and produce the intended outcomes. What gets measured gets done. The KPI will be an important part of keeping all team members on track.
  3. Keep communication open, clear, and direct. This is a basic tenet of project management in my opinion, but it is worth remembering. You need to make sure when you communicate with anyone on the team, everyone is included. Creating a communication bubble where a limited number of people from the team are involved is a great way to kill the culture of success on your team. And make sure you are very, very clear with your communication.

I had a boss who told me during a performance review that one of the things he liked about me is all he needed to do was communicate his vision for a project and I would get it done. While this is a trait you want in members of your team, you need to make sure all of your team members can play well with others. You shouldn’t ever have to make excuses for the way people treat other members of the team. If you find yourself in that situation, remember the lesson and make sure you do a better job in the planning stages of your next project and select the right people.

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I am the author of this site, and what I say goes. I love talking about the benefits of formalized and professional project management and getting stuff done.