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Project Execution: Leadership, Communication, and Project Closure

The article is in continuation to the Project execution article, earlier to this post where we discussed aspects of running a successful project, here is the link to it. We will further the discussion in regard to the leadership and communication strategy and skills required to accomplish the efficient execution of the project. This will also end the project management journey with impact reporting and project closure report where we will discuss how to close a project sensibly. Happy reading!

Content of the Article

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Leadership and Influencing Skills

How do you define a Great Project Manager? It's as simple as this;

  • It's about supporting the people on your team to do their best work

  • Enabling people to build things they're proud of.

What is a Team?

A team is a group of people who plan, solve problems, make decisions, and review progress in service of a specific project, or objective.

What is a Workgroup?

Working toward a common goal, their work is more likely to be coordinated, controlled, or assigned by a single person or entity.

Project managers develop and lead effective teams by fostering a culture of teamwork.

Teamwork is an effective collaborative way of working in which each person is committed to and heading toward a shared goal.

Why does teamwork matter in PM?

  • Teamwork fosters creativity.

  • Encourages accountability.

  • Helps you get stuff done.

Factors that impact effective teamwork

Five important factors that impact effective teamwork are listed below

  • Psychological safety

    • Refers to an individual's perception, of the consequences of taking an Interpersonal risk.

    • Be direct and Kind

  • Dependability

    • Team members are reliable and complete their work on time

  • Structure and Clarity

    • An individual's understanding of job expectations, knowledge of how to meet those expectations, and the consequences of their performance.

  • Meaning

    • Finding a sense of purpose either in the work itself or in the results of that work.

  • Impact

    • The belief is that the results of one's work matter and create change.

Leading High Functioning Team

Steps towards leading a high-functioning team are stated as;

  • Create systems that turn chaos into order

  • Communicate and listen

  • Promote trust and psychological safety

    • Create a team atmosphere where different opinions are welcome, and all members remain respectful of one another during challenging conversations.

    • Providing and accepting feedback, it's a healthy part of project management and usually makes for a better project outcome

  • Demonstrate empathy and create motivation

    • Present

    • Listening

    • Asking questions.

  • Delegate responsibility and prioritize

  • Celebrate the team's success

Air Cover

There may come a time when you will need to prioritize the needs of your team over the wants of your stakeholders. This is called providing “air cover” for your team, and it is an important part of managing a project.

When preparing to defend the team against out-of-scope requests, the project manager needs to be confident in the team’s progress toward the project goal.

  • Saying “No” without explicitly saying “No”

  • Intervening from behind the scenes

A writing in the street Passion led us here

Bruce Tuckman's five stages of team development

  • Forming

    • The team get to know one another

    • The project manager should clarify the project goals, roles, and context of the project

  • Storming

    • Frustration might emerge

    • Focus on conflict resolution.

    • Listen as the team addresses problems to solve and share insights on how the team might better function as a unit.

  • Norming

    • The team has resolved some of its internal conflicts by establishing new norms.

    • The project manager should codify the team norms, ensuring that the team is aware of those norms and reinforce them when needed.

  • Performing

    • The team works together relatively seamlessly to complete tasks

    • The project manager should focus on delegating, motivating, and providing feedback to keep up the team's momentum.

  • Adjourning

    • Wrapping up

    • It's time for the team to disband

    • Celebrate the final milestones and success of the project

Team dynamics refer to the forces both conscious and unconscious, that impact team behavior and performance.

Why managing team dynamics is so important? The following helps in enlightening;

  • Teams have individuals with different skill sets, varying degrees of autonomy, and competing priorities.

  • Create a collaborative and psychologically safe environment.

  • Help the project manager understand how to motivate the team.

A set of colorful pencils

Ethical and Inclusive Leadership

Ethical leadership is a form of leadership that promotes and values honesty, justice, respect, community, and integrity.

Promote ethical leadership

  • By defining and aligning values within your team.

  • Demonstrating how adhering to those values benefits the mission of the organization.

Creating forums for employees via

  • Raise their viewpoints

  • Be heard

  • Receive follow-ups from company leaders on employee concerns

If ethical leadership's aim is to create forums where employees' concerns can be heard, inclusive leadership aims to put what we've heard into action to create an environment that encourages. And empowers each and every member of the community.

Inclusive leadership is when everyone's unique identity, background, and experiences are respected, valued, and integrated into how the team operates.

Diversity is the set of differences each of us possesses, whether visible or invisible that gives us each a unique perspective on the world and our work.

Inclusion is what the team does with that diversity of thought and perspective.

Three ways that managers can lead inclusively;

  • Fostering a culture of respect

    • Modeling the values of the organization.

    • Taking appropriate action if misconduct occurs.

    • Creating an environment in which team members feel comfortable speaking up with concerns, and recognizing team contributions regularly.

  • Creating an equal opportunity to succeed

    • With regular communication

    • Accessible documentation

    • Regular check-ins with the team to listen, share information, ask and answer questions, and provide support.

  • Inviting and integrating diverse perspectives

    • Creating a sense of psychological safety in the team

    • Inviting teammates to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns

A common framework for ethical decision-making

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University developed the following framework as a helpful guide for ethical decision-making.

  • Recognize an ethical issue

  • Get the facts

  • Evaluate alternative actions

  • Make a decision and test it

  • Act and reflect on the outcome

A good quote scripted on a rock to inspire warrior and common people

Effective influencing

Influencing is the ability to alter another person's thinking or behaviors.

The four steps of effective influencing by leadership expert - Dr. Jay A Conger is an essential strategy that every project manager should know and use;

  • Establish credibility

    • Make the case for why your audience should listen to you

    • Sources of credibility

      • Expertise

      • Relationships

  • Frame for common ground

    • Make the case for how your idea can benefit your audience

  • Provide evidence

    • Make your case through hard data and persuasive storytelling

  • Connect Emotionally

    • Demonstrate to your audience that you are emotionally committed to your idea

Common influencing mistakes

The following is a note on common influencing mistakes;

  • Approach their audience too aggressively.

  • Resist compromise.

  • Failing to establish credibility, frame for common ground, or connect emotionally.

  • Assume agreement can be worked out in a single conversation.

What are the two buckets of power sources you can avail from;

  • Organizational

  • Personal

Where do the Organizational sources of power come from;

  • Role - your position within an organization, or team

  • Information - your level of access, and control over information.

  • Network - People you're connected with professionally and personally.

  • Reputation - how others perceive you

Whereas personal sources of power include;

  • Knowledge - Knowledge refers to the power that you draw from your expertise in certain subjects, your unique abilities, and skill sets, and even your ability to learn new things.

  • Expressiveness - Your ability to communicate with others.

  • History - The level of personal history there is between yourself and another person.

  • Character - Other people's view of the qualities that make you

As the project manager builds his/her career, they can use the above to try to identify their own superpowers.

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Communication is the most essential ingredient for project success. Further, we discuss how to get with it;

Project Document Responsibilities

  • How do those documents get used?

  • Who has access to those documents?

  • How often do the documents get updated?

Project managers need to communicate certain information to their team multiple times and in various ways.

Principles of effective email writing

  • State what you want clearly.

  • Keep the content short and concise.

  • Structure your writing.

  • Check grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Common communication tools

The following is the list of common communication tools

  • Messaging

  • Virtual meetings

  • Work management and collaboration tools

Email Best Practices

  • Carefully select who you're sending an email to and why.

  • Make sure the subject field clearly states what the email is about.

  • Keep messages short and stay on topic.

  • Attach or link large amounts of information separately.

  • Clearly state action items.

  • Use correct grammar and spelling.

  • Write in an appropriate tone.

  • Be friendly, motivating, clear, and specific.

How to conduct effective meetings?

  • Structured

    • Start and end on time

    • Attendees were carefully selected.

    • Topics are prioritized.

Timeboxing - project managers need to set expectations for how long they expect participants to spend on a given topic and add a few minutes’ buffer to each discussion.

That way, the project manager knows he/she is not packing too much into the agenda.

  • A designated note-taker has been assigned.

  • Intentional

    • Clearly stated purpose and expectations, which should be in the meeting agenda as well as the meeting invite

      • Send any pre-reading materials in advance of the meeting so that everyone shows up prepared to participate.

    • Everyone understands why they're attending.

  • Collaborative

    • Collaboration is when people work together to produce or create something.

    • Digital shared meeting document

    • Let people know they're welcome to respond verbally, through the chat, in the meeting notes, or in any other format the project manager like to include.

  • Inclusive

    • Inclusivity is the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

    • Leave space in the meeting for participants who've been quiet

    • A key component of inclusivity is ensuring that your meetings and presentations are accessible.

    • Formalize initial check-ins for the group that builds understanding and ensure everyone knows their input is needed.

    • Give everyone your full attention.

    • Help all participants to be heard.

    • Help participants feel comfortable sharing different perspectives.

    • Use images that reflect the diversity of the world.

Making meetings accessible to everyone, the following are the concerned people to be considered;

  • Visual impairments and blindness.

  • Hearing loss and deafness.

  • Mobility disabilities, which means having difficulties getting around, such as people who require wheelchairs or canes.

  • Neurological disorders.

Checklist for productive meetings

  • Active participation from attendees

  • A clear and concise agenda that is followed throughout

  • The correct attendees (meaning the participants can contribute to achieving the meeting’s goal)

Common types of project meetings

Travel and taking notes in paper with a pen

  • Project kick-off - the official beginning of a project and serves as a way to align the team's understanding of the project goals with actual plans and procedures.

  • Status update - This category includes regular team meetings where the primary goal is to align the team on updates, progress, challenges, and next steps.

    • Task Updates

    • Schedule status

    • Budget Status

    • Current or Anticipated issues

    • Action Items

  • Stakeholder reviews - The goal of a stakeholder meeting is to get buy-in and support.

    • Present a project update

    • Seek and listen to feedback

    • Make a decision or resolve a major issue

  • Project reviews

    • Retrospective meetings

Schedule these meetings depends on several factors

  • Project's complexity

  • Number of team members

  • The level of information required by the project sponsor, clients, or others.

A wooden door is closed with an old metal lock

Project Closure

Project closing consists of the process performed to formally complete the project, the current phase, and contractual obligations.

  • All work is done.

  • All agreed-upon project management processes have been executed.

  • You have received formal recognition and agreement from key stakeholders that the project is done.

Negative Effect on Unclosed Project

  • The never-ending project exists when, for whatever reason, the project deliverables and tasks cannot be completed.

  • The abandoned project exists when inadequate handoff of the project deliverables occurs.

Avoiding the impact of project closure oversights

Oversights or skipping steps in the closing phase of a project can:

  • Impact the product’s or service’s scheduled launch dates.

  • Put your organization at legal risk.

  • Result in significant financial losses to your organization.

  • Undermine your team's credibility, and yours.

  • Damage your relationship with the customer or client.

Steps of Closing Process

A small closing process at the end of each milestone or a formal and more comprehensive closing phase near the very end.

Steps to conducting a closing process after each phase or milestone

  • Refer to prior documentation such as

    • Statement of work

    • Request for proposal

    • Risk register

    • RACI chart.

  • Put together the closing document

  • Conduct administrative closure of the procurement process.

  • Make sure all stakeholders are aware that a phase or project is ending.

  • Complete any necessary follow-up work.

Steps to conducting a closing process at the end of project completion

  • Provide the necessary training tools, documentation, and capabilities to use your product.

  • Ensure that the project has satisfied its goals and desired outcomes.

  • Document acceptance from all stakeholders like clients and sponsors.

  • Review all contracts and documentation with your project team.

  • Conducting a formal retrospective.

  • Disband and thank the project team

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Impact Reporting

Impact reporting is a presentation that's given at the end of a project for key stakeholders.

  • Highlight key performance areas

  • Use metrics to showcase your results

  • Prepare an effective impact report presentation

    • Be concise.

    • Understand your audience.

    • Use visuals.

    • Describe your learnings.

    • Keep your stakeholders engaged. (Show, Storytell, and Engage).

Closing process for the team

A retrospective is a meeting aimed at discussing successes, failures, and possible improvements on the project.

  • Encourage team-building

  • Facilitated improved collaboration

  • Promoted positive changes in future procedures and processes

Project closeout report

Serves three major purposes

  • It's a blueprint to document what the team did, how they did it, and what they delivered.

  • It provides an evaluation of the quality of work.

  • It evaluates the project's performance with respect to budget and schedule.

To further read related articles please check the links below;

Source & Reference


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