By Michelle Turner • March 7, 2019

Program Success Starts with People: The 5 Principles of Monitoring Team Performance (Principle Two)

Principle Two: Quality & Performance Management

There have been entire books and libraries created using this topic, so for time's sake, I will only break down the key highlights.

A Job Worth Doing, Is a Job Worth Doing Well

The topic of my prior blog was timeliness, because issues with time tend to be a precursor towards quality issues. This is not to say that an individual who only works for a short duration of time cannot perform quality work, but I believe the commitment of time goes hand-in-hand with quality. A team member who is not simply “clocking” can generally be relied upon as a strong resource who can help across the board and be available to take on new tasks or pinch hit as needed. 

When I hear someone say they thought it would not be an issue to take time off before a major team deliverable is due because they have finished their specific piece, it makes me wince and think they will not last long. The team needs all hands-on deck during crunch time.

Leaders want team members who are “in the game.” After all, if a job is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well. 

No matter the reason for someone staying in a position – whether it is the money, the learning, the team, etc., they are clearly there for some reason, as Jack Welch speaks to in his piece, Winning.

Defining Quality

So now that we’ve discussed time, let’s talk quality. Quality can be tricky, because it has somewhat of a subjective nature, even if there are clear-cut objectives. The evaluator’s subjectivity is most prominent with metrics that are qualitative versus quantitative.   

It is critical to ensure the team as a whole understands goals and timeliness. This should be done through discussion and documentation. By the latter, I don’t mean tomes of written work, I’m more referring to clearly documented milestones. This could be demonstrated by something as simple as a timeline or gantt chart. 

It is very important to lay out goals and expectations as team members come on board, and continually re-visit them over time. Goals should be provided in a written format and discussed in-person with each team member.

Regular meetings with team members are important, in order to discuss progress against goals on a weekly basis. This may become challenging as your team grows in size, so you will need to identify a second-tier team and have them work closely with each team member that reports to him/her.

Likewise, it is critical to clearly identify who is responsible for which task. I have found this to be one of the issues on a team that can cause the greatest contention. It is a simple, yet easy to overlook this component, widely known as "resource management" across PM circles. The challenging part is to identify those on your team capable of moving tasks forward – not everyone is strong at this.

Resources should be mapped against tasks, and updated regularly. This may be in the form of a detailed resource-loaded project schedule, but it may also suffice to have it be as simplistic as a list of tasks with associated names.

Including due dates is the other key piece. Once you have tasks, resources and dates, you have basic information for reviewing quality with your team.

Assessing Quality

Quality should be assessed daily through team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and regular and ad-hoc quality inspections.

Team meetings serve as an excellent venue for assessing progress against tasks from a time perspective and addressing any issues that may fall in the path of meeting timeliness. 

One-on-one reviews provide the opportunity to dig a bit deeper and have a more meaningful discussion on any impediments to progress.

Regular and ad-hoc quality inspections should be conducted by team leaders. A review of the work product should be done for both form and content.

Neatness, grammar and presentation are essential in delivering a product. From this perspective, it is helpful if a standard suite of templates are available for team members to leverage.

Individuals with subject matter expertise are best suited for content reviews, and this extends to peer reviews. Peer reviews provide a great way for team members to leverage their knowledge and teach others, which is always an excellent way for your team to grow.

Taking the time to review examples of how deliverables may be impacted by attention to quality components can yield strong results for your team. As a leader, you should not always assume that quality is understood. Breaking down and reviewing real work products is a very good way to help your team increase their understanding.

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