Project management: 3 ways to improve voluntary participation

by Ty Kiisel, @task - It's no secret that more and more organizations are turning to project management methodologies to help increase efficiencies across the enterprise. However, the greatest single challenge to successful adoption of project management best practice is a lack of voluntary team member participation in the process.

The traditional command-and-control or top-down management approach just doesn't work with today's workforce. The result is project information that executives don't trust; an overly structured management environment that people dislike; and frustrated project teams whose accomplishments go unrecognized.

Taking a more social approach to the project management process could be the answer.

In my opinion, the project management industry needs to recognize that there are a number of reasons people are drawn to social networking, including: Ease of use; getting positive feedback and recognition from a network of friends and peers; and sharing conversational (qualitative) information about what they are doing.

Regardless of the project management methods used by your organization, a more social approach to project management needs to accomplish the following to fuel greater voluntary team participation:

1. Empower the Front Line: This is important because the people closer to the work understand it better. Facilitate greater individual ownership over priorities and commitments by enabling team members to make public commitments, take ownership over deadlines and milestones, and prioritize their own work.

2. Capture the Real Story: The most significant factor to improving data accuracy is to capture more qualitative information. Providing frequent and more descriptive updates delivers greater visibility and enables a richer understanding of the real story. Qualitative information flowing upward in organizations gives managers and executives the ability to follow conversations on relevant initiatives.

3. Recognize Accomplishments: Focusing on people fosters discussion, highlights accomplishments, and keeps everyone engaged. Make it possible for people to receive recognition for their accomplishments, and comment on the work and accomplishments of others, to foster a social environment where everyone's contributions are visible to peers and managers.

Ty Kiisel writes about project management issues and best practices for @task Project Management Software. Follow Ty on Twitter: @tykiisel

For more project management tips, see:

Project management: Scrapping a doomed project

The essential project management reading list

Project Management: 4 Questions To Ask Before Starting Any Project

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
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