When we are assigned to our projects – as project managers and as other project professionals (i.e. the project team), we should all understand that we are professionals.  And, based on that, it’s reasonable that we should all have some basic expectations of our fellow co-workers.  Project managers have some fundamental expectations of project team members, and those project team members should be able to have some fundamental expectations of their project manager.  These expectations should be the minimum we should strive for as either project managers or project team members.

In this article, we’ll discuss eight reasonable expectations that the project manager should be able to have of his project team members.

Communicate / inform proactively

Key project information will not just make it to the project manager through osmosis.  Project team members should never just assume the project manager knows ‘x’ or ‘y’.  Just as the PM is expected to communicate effectively, the project team members carry that same expectation.  To ensure accuracy, information must flow both ways.

Be committed to the project 

At the very core of PM expectations for their team members is the thought that those team members will remain committed to the project.  It’s understandable that most or all team members will have other obligations and possibly even other active projects that they are working on, but it remains their responsibility to work toward the goals of this project and successfully complete the tasks assigned to them.

Follow the project plan and defined processes

Within an organization there are usually standard PM practices put in place for teams to follow.  Once employees who will usually be staffing project teams understand the processes then it is reasonable that the project manager should be able to expect his team members to follow these standard processes – with some periodic coaching, of course.

Demonstrate proactivity

Project team members are appointed because they are skilled professionals.  Likewise, they are then expected to be proactive and professional in carrying out their duties.  It should not be necessary to micro-manage them.

Propose things that make sense

One of my daughters comes up with ideas all the time that just don’t make sense.  That comes with the territory of that age group – she’s still just 14 years old.  But we’re talking about skilled professionals who comprise our teams so they should not be wasting anyone’s time with suggestions or discussions that make no sense for the current solution.  We all need to remember to think before we speak – especially if we’re older than 14.

Provide accurate and truthful status

Project managers need accurate project status information to provide to the project customer and usually this comes from the team members assigned to the tasks on the project.  This applies whether the team is providing verbal or written status updates to the project manager or if they are using a tool like Seavus Project Viewer to collaborate on status updates.  Thought must go into these status updates so that the project team members can get the PM the most up-to-date and accurate status information possible.  Otherwise, updates to the project schedule and status will be meaningless.

Be accountable for decisions

Project team members are skilled professionals and their project managers expect them to make decisions from time to time that can affect the project.  However, they must also be accountable for the decisions that they make.  This goes back to individual ownership of the project.

Take direction, but push back appropriately

Project team members should be able to take direction from their project managers without objection.  However, it is also their responsibility to push back when they feel that a better option is available or more discussion is necessary.  We all need to embrace the project as our own and act accordingly.

Promote participation in the project planning process

When putting the initial project plan together, incorporate the entire project team into the process whenever possible.  If they helped produce the project plan then they will better understand it, feel accountable for it, and want to own its success throughout the project.

Stimulate interaction of project team members

The project manager must motivate project team members and be ready to stimulate project discussions.  Being able to lead effective and productive project team meetings is a good start – your best project interactions are usually going to come from these meetings.

Remove obstacles to progress

Just as department managers must work to remove obstacles to productivity for their employees, project managers must do the same for their project team members.  The project manager must listen to the needs of the project team members that are discussed during team meetings and look for ways to eliminate specific roadblocks to their productivity.

Define performance expectations

Expectations for performance among team members must come from the project manager and should be set at the beginning of the engagement.  If the project manager wants to achieve the most he can from his team, then he needs to let them know what those expectations are.  Otherwise, he may get mediocre performances as they shift their priorities to their other projects.

Manage conflict

Conflict will areas - either among team members, with the project manager, or with the customer.  Use it as a positive.  Use it as a catalyst to important team decisions that include everyone and promote even more ownership of the project.

Share information and communicate effectively

The project manager should avoid keeping project team members in the dark.  Not sharing information – even negative information – can cause team members to lose confidence and trust in the project manager.  Of course, effective collaboration using a tool like Seavus’ Project Viewer is one of the best ways to easily disseminate project information and among team members.