While there are dozens of solutions for managing projects, managing human beings is a bit trickier. So CIO.com asked dozens of IT executives and project managers for their suggestions on how to keep tabs on what your direct reports and team members are working on, how best to monitor their progress and ways to quickly identify and prevent potential problems. Their top seven suggestions appear below.
1. Define what needs to get done by whom by when upfront. "As a manager, it's important for you to clearly define what needs to get done and by what date," says Wayne Mekjian, executive vice president and head of Information Services, Wells Fargo & Company.
"Running through various tasks on a list does not give your team enough understanding of what results are expected of them so they can make the right kind of progress," Mekjian says. So it's important to create a roadmap and schedule at the onset--and periodically check in with your team to see if milestones are being met.
2. Use tools that allow team members to share documents and files. "We use Google Docs, which enables us to see the progress on any project at anytime," says John Paul Engel, the president of Knowledge Capital Consulting.
"Even our clients can view the work so they see the progress as well." How does sharing keep projects on track? "Visibility means I have to do less monitoring and reviewing," Engel says. "I trust them to get the work done and if it's not then it's clear to everyone. This level of visibility helps me identify problems early."
3. Meet with your team on a regular basis. "We have a monthly direct reports meeting where we discuss major initiatives, the overall state of the union and allow each person to share updates on what they feel is important," explains Larry Bonfante, CIO, United States Tennis Association (USTA). "Meeting with people on a regular basis ensures that you know how to best support their success and that projects never veer very far off target."
4. Take notes and follow up. "To help keep people and projects on track, I keep regular performance notes in an online performance journal (called Feedback Central)," says Mazin Abou-Seido, director of IT, Halogen Software, a provider of employee performance management services. "This feedback is then used both in my weekly meetings with staff, and to help keep goals on track over the course of the year."
5. Ask people how they are doing and if they need help-but don't be a micromanager. "Try to engage them in a more relaxed atmosphere and just take their pulse, see what's going on with them in their lives, see how things are going and what [you] can do to best support their progress," says Bonfante.
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