Accountability is a fundamental concept in project success but keeping your team accountable can become more challenging when part or all of the group remote. Along with leveraging healthy communication channels and focusing on strong engagement, PMs can also employ some targeted actions to maintain accountability. We’ve put together five key steps to ensure your team members remain accountable throughout each project’s lifecycle.
1 – Begin by defining and broadcasting clear expectations.
Every member of your team should know their role and what it entails. This becomes particularly important when the project is complex or when cross-functional groups may be joining and leaving the project during different phases of its progression.
The remote aspect introduces an additional need for clarity. You should address not only how or when people are expected to carry out specific tasks, but also how frequently progress updates and other communications should be shared to ensure everyone has the latest information.
2 – Identify the metrics you’ll use to measure progress and success.
Your team can funnel significant energy into executing their tasks, but it will be difficult for both you and them to understand how well they’re actually performing if you don’t have a common vision of success.
Because your expectations and related metrics may change over time to reflect the current status of the project, it’s important to empower remote team members with the latest data on where things stand. Consider technology tools that enable the group to view target metrics and update any relevant figures in real time.
3 – Review your project metrics regularly.
This approach brings dual benefits. You’ll reinforce the expectations you set originally while also helping identify where efforts don’t appear to match up with the target metrics.
PMs should include status reviews in regular team meetings but set aside additional time each week or month to evaluate performance with individual group members, too. With ongoing emphasis on each person’s expected results, you’ll maintain accountability even across a long time horizon and absent the frequent in-person queries that typically happen when everyone is working at the same jobsite.
4 – Be willing to adjust expectations and metrics throughout the project.
There may be occasions when you need to reassign the project’s various responsibilities, or when workloads must be restructured to accommodate changes in the project’s cadence or the team’s staffing resources.
In these instances, alert everyone involved and outline how these adjustments will affect their accountability for tasks and reporting responsibilities. Remote team members could easily miss these details if they are unable to attend the next weekly meeting or if they only skim the agenda, so it’s wise to send the information across multiple channels. For example, you may choose to cover it during an upcoming teleconference, add it to your project data sharing platform for on-demand updates, and follow up with a meeting recap that includes the revised expectations.
5 – Address potential gaps or lapses as soon as you discover them.
To ensure team members stay on track, PMs need to offer guidance and direction when appropriate. Remember that progress may lag behind expectations for any number of reasons and you want to be confident you know how, when, and why the project’s actions fell out of alignment with the master plan.
Remote teams rely heavily on risk management and project control tools, which should enable you to spot the majority of these issues ahead of time. Providing your group with adequate training on the use of these tools and techniques is key to ensuring that potential delays or missed targets don’t sneak up on anyone.