Successful project planning and execution requires commitment from every stakeholder. Everyone involved in orchestrating and carrying out tasks must be accountable for the activities under their area of responsibility, but developing this level of individual accountability and sustaining it across the entire project lifecycle is a task all by itself. Along with their normal project duties, PMs often need to collaborate with vendors, internal groups outside their reporting structure, and sponsors or other high-level influencers whose attention may be called elsewhere before the project is finished.
Keeping such a broad array of participants engaged and accountable takes time and dedicated effort, and even seasoned PMs often run into pushback along the way. If you’re having a difficult time achieving better accountability within your team—or if supporting departments aren’t compelled to maintain accountability because of a matrix reporting environment—consider partnering with a project management firm. Targeted project management services can be deployed to address your organization’s specific challenges while also empowering your team with the right skills to maintain individual accountability at every level.
An experienced consultancy will have the tools to help you improve individual accountability and drive better results across your stakeholder base. As you work with them to explore where accountability has been a problem in the past, you may find that some of the common areas we’ve listed below bubble to the surface.
In many organizations, project team members must work through a matrix environment where other managers need to be involved in accountabilityefforts and discussions. This can be a tough situation if the other departments don’t report through the same executive in the C-suite, or if they aren’t accustomed to working as part of the project team. Without sufficient pressure from the leadership group to make accountability a priority, PMs are sometimes left to beg, plead, and cajole in hopes they’ll receive the necessary level of commitment. Facilitation expertise may be one project management service your team can leverage with your consulting partner to help navigate these types of reporting structures and improve accountability even when direct supervision of team members is outside your control.
Driving better accountability over the long term requires improved awareness of task progressso you can catch issues while team members still have an opportunity to resolve them at the individual level. If problems such as delays or quality concerns aren’t discovered until the last minute, more focus will necessarily be given to fixing the immediate problem rather than working on a more proactive approach to accountability. A project management consultancy experienced in the use of rigorous project controls and progress monitoring can offer insight on where your organization is lacking the appropriate level of visibility into task status. They’ll also be able to offer suggestions on changing the way you gather and analyze data, thus boosting your awareness of how key activities are advancing.
Though your team possesses a broad range of project management competencies, developing a culture of accountability may require that they build better soft skills when it comes to people management. Your organization’s internal HR team can offer information about the educational opportunities that are available to employees. Targeted instruction on improving their communication and delegation techniques, for example, could be hugely helpful. You may also consider launching a mentoring program if you have a few seasoned team members with solid people management skills. By sharing their knowledge with newer employees, your group will have more consistency in its management style and everyone will have a better understanding of how accountability efforts work—from the expectations placed on individuals to the way corrective actions are handled.