Holding the project team and others accountable for completing their work is an important skill for a project manager. It is especially important for agile and other less traditional project management methods where the team is largely self-organizing and self-managing.
To help the agile and other project managers remember how to best hold people accountable, I like to think of the 4Cs: clarity, commitment, comment, coach. In brief, these are:
Clarity. Being clear about what is needed is the first step. Clarity of purpose, plan, and roles and responsibilities facilitates the ability to hold people accountable, as they will know what is expected. It establishes some minimal norms.
Commitment. Commitment is a two-way street. In the daily stand-up meeting, an important agile event, team members make commitments for what they will address for the next day. At the same time, anyone in a project leadership position, including the role of a project manager, scrum master, or product owner, must make commitments to the team to remove any roadblocks and provide the resources needed for the team to complete their work.
Comment. When goals aren’t being met, and activities aren’t completed as planned, the team members need to know. They need quality feedback. Project managers need to have discussions with those not performing up to expectations. This is not a form of criticism, but an opportunity to discuss with the team member why they haven’t been able to meet their commitments. The project manager must find out about the support and resources they may need to get back on track.
Coach. In the role of a servant leader, agile project managers need to take on the role of a coach and mentor. Make it a point to have one-on-one meetings with each team member to determine how you may be best able to assist in their work and professional development and suggest steps they may be able to take to avoid waste and become more productive team members.
In addition to remembering the 4Cs, the servant leader must also mirror the expected behaviors and be seen with high integrity. Building trust with the team and being able to hold the team accountable for their work are two very important steps in making sure the team is performing at its best and making progress toward becoming a high performing team.
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