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Behind every successful project team is a skilled project manager. Through proper planning, attention to detail, and inspired leadership, the project will finish with reduced costs, shorter time frames, and superior quality. The project plan is the principal deliverable. The real challenge lies in getting the most from your team to achieve these results. Here are some tips to making your team more productive.

Motivate With Stories

A good business story is generally more compelling than a speech. Providing some background can help them identify more with your organization. Your story could take different forms and provide any factual information you think relevant, such as talking about how a simple software fix boosted sales by 25 percent. Be sure to communicate the company mission, explain what’s special about the project, it’s value and benefits to the company, and it’s impact on the team’s roles and careers.

Establish Balance

Projects should be approached as an initiative that binds your project plan to individual talents. Meticulous, analytic types can be invaluable for working out specifications, but may not be the best people for coming up with bold ideas. Creative people may founder if given tasks like doing research or validating data. As a project manager, you have to be able to engage your team on a person-by-person basis. Disengaged staff can cost companies $2,400 per year per employee.

Set Goals

Setting short-term targets for your team over the course of the project has been dismissed by some business cultures as limiting innovation. The concern is that it makes teams “target focused” only, but setting realistic goals and deadlines encourages the team to strive to meet them. It gives team members a sense of direction and a shared purpose. Plan targets that are clearly defined, measurable, and attainable, and your team will take pride in meeting them.

Know Your Business

As the team leader, you’re the central figure that the others will look to for guidance and advice. Failure to provide it in a timely or effective manner can mean losing some of the confidence that your team must have in you. For example, a team entrusted with redesigning equipment assembly lines to incorporate new features can be more effective with a leader qualified by an engineering management masters degree. It’s critical to supply reliable direction, not guesswork.

Remember that even as the leader, you’re still a team member. Encourage an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, and your team will function more productively and produce incredible results.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

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