Ultimately, the only way that a project can be under control is to have every member of the project team in control of his or her own work. A project manager can achieve control at the macro level only if control is achieved at the micro level. However, this does not mean that you should practice micro-management.  You’re often dealing with highly skilled and very technically competent project team members – the last thing they need is to be micro-managed.  It can alienate them and torpedo your project before it ever gets off the ground.

It does mean, however, that you should set up conditions under which every team member can achieve control of his or her own efforts. To do this requires five basic conditions.

Clarify for every team member what his objective is

Note the difference between tasks and objectives. State the objective, and explain to the employee, if necessary, what the purpose of the objective is. This allows the individual to pursue the objective in his own way.

Have each worker prepare a personal plan for doing the required work

Remember, if you have no plan, you have no control. This applies at the individual level, as well as the overall project level.  As the project manager, you need to do at least a cursory review of this plan so that you know the team member is on the right track and truly understands what is expected of them.  Revisit the plan with them periodically for two reasons:  if they run off course of the plan or to ensure that they are still on track.

Ensure that all workers have the skills and resources needed for the job

The need for resources is obvious; in addition, some workers may require training if they lack the necessary skills. Certainly, when no employee with the required skills is available, it may be necessary to have team members trained.

Provide direct feedback to each worker

If feedback is given in some roundabout way, workers cannot exercise self-control. On the other hand, if a team member is building a wall, she can measure the height of the wall, compare that to the planned performance, and know whether she is on track or not.

Define clearly for each individual his authority to take corrective action when necessary

Whenever there is a deviation from the plan on the portion of work that the team member is tasked with – they must have the authority to take some corrective action.  If the worker has to ask the project manager what to do every time a deviation occurs, the project manager is still controlling. In addition, if very many people have to do this, it puts a real burden on the project manager.