When you need input from team members, regarding how to approach and solve a particular problem, it is essential that the Project Manager provides a point of focus for the process(es) to center on. This is, of a course, one of the many ways by which the Project Manager facilitates his/her staff to help them achieve a desired outcome. So, by providing a definition by which the mechanics of the work to be done will be followed – you’ll allow the team members to focus their thoughts/efforts on the process(es) by which it will be achieved. Needless to say, failing to provide a process focus will simply mean that the team members work in isolation and become fragmented in their approaches to solving the problem.
Arriving at a process focus.
To arrive at a helpful process focus for your team members you have to satisfy yourself that the process is suited to the task and is fit-for-purpose. Secondly, think carefully about the individuals that will be working on the task, as your process focus needs to cater for their individual personalities. So, the bigger the team the more complex this aspect becomes. Thirdly, and following on from that previous point, decide whether or not to assign specific responsibilities to individuals; or can you be confident of them all working cooperatively as a team without constant monitoring from yourself? Two final points here are – whilst making sure the task will stretch those working on it don’t make the process over complicated or beyond them and always, always, have a plan B!
Process focus success.
Having read the section above you might think there are a lot of potential pitfalls in process focus. The fact is, the same as everything in Project Management, it’s really all about using your interpersonal skills to prepare the way. This begins with selecting the right people for the process in the first place and knowing which facilitation techniques will work with them. Involving and encouraging them from the start is also vital, so before laying down the mechanics of what you want done make sure you organize meetings to get their input so that they’re relaxed, interested and involved from the start.