The role of the project manager normally does not include providing formal performance reviews to team members. This is usually a responsibility of each employee’s functional manager. However, there is no question that a project manager does need to provide performance feedback to team members to let them know how they are doing and whether they are meeting performance expectations. This includes recognizing when team members meet their commitments and providing feedback to them when they are not meeting your expectations.
Telling people they are doing a good job is easy. It is harder when you have to tell a team member he or she is not meeting your expectations. When this type of conversation is appropriate, the project manager can use the following techniques:
- Plan. This helps managers develop a framework for providing effective feedback. The manager should think ahead of time about the behavior that should be highlighted and how the manager can help the employee improve.
- Provide examples. Vague criticism fosters anxiety. Tangible examples are required to highlight the feedback. Typically, you do not need to provide dozens of examples. Hopefully, you can make the point with a couple representative observations
- Motivate. Use motivational techniques in the discussion. The employee is bound to be disappointed by the feedback. Look for opportunities to build the morale of the team member as well, so that they will be eager to improve.
- Sandwich. The project manager should start the session with positive comments, then get to the feedback and finish with positive, motivating comments.
- Allow time for feedback. The process needs to be a dialogue between the project manager and the team member. So, seek feedback from the team member and allow him or her to agree, disagree or provide their perspective.
- Set a timeframe for action and follow-up. The project manager should document any action items, circulate them to the team member and ensure that they are completed. Before the meeting is over, the project manager and team member should also agree on a follow-up timeframe to check progress.