One of the project manager’s main responsibilities, team performance management is more than evaluating, monitoring, and reporting how the team is doing. It implies planning and creating the right environment for performance, monitoring performance, providing team members with constant feedback on their performance, finding solutions for below-expectations performance, and rewarding good performance.
Is Team Performance Evaluation a Good Thing?
Appraising team’s performance using the appropriate metrics remains an important, though not essential, part of performance management. The objectivity of performance evaluation is a soft spot. Some claim that no evaluation of an individual’s performance, whether done with the right metrics or not, is objective since performance is not a quantitative measure. Others claim that evaluating individual performance instead of team’s performance is detrimental to the team’s morale and productivity, as well as the quality of the project’s deliverables. Comparing one team member to another can destroy team cohesion and trust, but not comparing team members to each other can allow some to take a free ride.
Is it Necessary for a Project Team?
In most cases, team performance evaluation needs to be done, whether it is to satisfy program management, to identify and reward top performers with a pay increase, or to identify and address any deficiencies in the team’s performance, which, if left unattended, may pose risks to the project’s schedule. But evaluating team performance is not only done for the sole purpose of creating a report for the upper management. A good project manager informs (in private) each team member of the outcome of his or her performance appraisal and works with each team member to find ways of improvement.
A good project manager also knows that focusing too much on the team’s performance evaluation and reporting, or the reward system, poses the risk of team members becoming more interested in ranking higher in performance appraisal reports than on the project. Nevertheless, evaluating team members’ performance remains necessary, and is beneficial, when done effectively, because one can only improve though constructive and timely criticism. But performance metrics should be measurable, fair for everyone, verifiable, and realistic.
Every organization wants to document performance and know who the top performers are and, if any, who are those that take a free ride. But for a project manager, the important thing is for the entire team to be cohesive, work together well, and perform well as a whole towards meeting the project’s objectives. Therefore, team performance needs to start being built from the first day of the project.
More than Ranking Team Members’ Performance
The project manager needs to set clear performance expectations and, as the project unrolls, ensure they are met. For this, monitoring the team’s performance is crucial. Obviously, this means more than just ranking team members on a “performance” scale and comparing scores since each task is different, each person is different, and each role in a team is different. But to build and maintain trust in a team, performance evaluations must be transparent and project team members must receive timely feedback. When performance management is done effectively, and so is team development, the project team has a solid foundation for working toward success.
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