Getting project feedback is one of those essential points that can often be overlooked by the staff you are relying on to provide it. Missing, or even worse mis-leading, feedback is of no use to the Project Manager in terms of helping them to keep the project on track. Ensuring that you get the correct feedback, as and when you need it, actually begins when you appoint staff to the project. Sure the people you employ must meet the criteria for the job – but don’t forget one of those criteria needs to be their ability to provide feedback.
Getting the feedback you need.
Having got the right people appointed to the project staff – how then do you make sure you’re getting the correct feedback? Begin by making sure that everyone understands the need to review their documented objectives thoroughly and regularly. By having them do that, and by having made a thorough job of documenting the objectives yourself in the first place, they’ll appreciate that the feedback they provide should pertain to those objectives. Having established that procedure - anyone returning feedback as a ‘nil-return’ or something as blithe as “all is OK”, can expect to have to do it again and relate their feedback to the objectives. Also, as Project Manager, be prepared to put a little thought into your feedback requests. Asking a question like “is all going well” is rather vague and gets the answer it deserves. Alternatively, asking a question like “can you review … etc … and then sign them off” is quite another way of putting things!
Particularly applicable to projects in larger organizations is the use of an external assessor to provide feedback on a project’s progress. If your project board want to bring in someone from outside of your teams to provide feedback – don’t see it as a threat but an opportunity for a someone new to review the project. This will also give you the opportunity to step back from the day-to-day work and look with new eyes yourself at the work in progress.