How to push someone to do his job in a project?

Today, we will talk about the subject of how to urge someone to do his/her job during a project, which is a basic skill for a productive project manager.

As a project manager, after you receive customer’s requirements, develop specific objectives and detailed project plans, determine the project’s executors and delivery time, and define every emergency response plans, then what should you do next?

How about drinking coffee or tea and sitting there reading newspapers every day, while waiting for the team members to deliver the project’s deliverables?

No! Every normal project manager should know that the project needs to be monitored, pushed, and controlled.

Therefore, one of the project manager’s key duty is to urge people to do their jobs when they are lack of motivation or behind schedule.



1 Pushing team members


The most common reason for project managers to push team members to do their job is the project was behind schedule. If every team member can finish his task right in time, then it naturally would not require the project manager to push the project schedule frequently.

If the project team is relatively small, what the project manager should do would not be very complicated: every day spends a few minutes sort out all the works of the day before, decompose the project tasks according to the acceptance criteria, emphasize the project milestones to the team members. The best way of all is making sure that every day the project team would have a certain output of the day’s work. Furthermore, it is also very important to review the project periodically with all team members.


The main duty of the project manager is to remind all team members to take the things above seriously and form a habit of reviewing his/her own progress. The key benefit of doing this is to make sure that everyone can see how his work is progressing the entire project.

If someone could not deliver the result on time, the one thing that the project manager should not do is to blame the member. Because blaming someone is very disrespectful and very demotivated, not only to the team member but to the entire project team. When the project manager realizes someone has not finished his job on time, the right thing to do would be to ask the member for the specific reason and discuss a solution for the problem, and determine how it would affect the project’s schedule, what help the team member needs and what resource might help him with the problem.


The project manager should adjust the project accordingly and dynamically. Every time the project manager adjust the project plan to fit the physical truth, he should also confirm with the key stakeholders.


There is one more thing which many project managers would easy to forget, that is when you are pushing team members, you can take a tough stand and put a little bit of pressure on the team, but not to much pressure, otherwise, it would demotivate the team. Pushing the team does not mean you have to show your authority, the real purpose is just to let every team member has a little tension when doing their job.

2 Pushing our leaders


Why would we need to push our leaders as a project manager?


Well, that’s because a lot of required resources are in the hands of our leaders. And if we can let our leaders understand the urgency of the situation/problem, then they can give us relevant resources to resolve the corresponding problem.


How do we push our leaders?


The first step is to understand our leader.


According to PMBOK page 65, there are six types of leadership in total. But in our daily life, most of our leaders belong to the following two types of leadership.


The first type is Laissez-faire.

This type of leader would allow the team to make their own decisions and establish their own goals, also referred to as taking a hands-off style. This type of leader does not care much about little things about low-level problems. But don’t forget, they do care about high-level problems or big decisions. Hence, the project manager should communicate with this type of leader when it comes to making critical decisions regarding the project. Only in this way the project can go smoothly.


The second type is participative leadership.

This type of leaders like the employees to report to them, no matter the problem is big or small. They feel better if they know every detail of the project. For this type of leader, project managers should communicate with them actively and frequently. Do not wait until they come to you and ask you about the project, otherwise, the leader would possibly not like you as project manager anymore.


The second step is to understand our leaders’ communication type.


Just as the management guru Peter F. Drucker once mentioned in his paper “Managing Oneself”, there are two types of people: “listener” and “reader”.

People who belong to the “reader” like to gain information from written materials, like papers, books, reports, and so forth.


On the other hand, people who belong to the “listener” does not like reading written materials. Instead of patiently reading through all those reports or papers, they prefer to gain information by hearing others.


Therefore, when facing leaders of different communication types, we have to use different strategies accordingly.


When communicating with “reader” leaders, suggestions are:


Use written reports, but detailed information such as data, analysis, and suggestions on the report. If you report to the “reader” leader verbally, he would probably think you haven’t prepared enough and you have not done very well.


When communicating with “listener” leaders, suggestions are:


Report to the leader verbally, you could have some kind of written material but just keep it simple and brief. Do not give the leader too many reports which are too complicated or heavy. Because they would not like to read all those reports. Remember, when speaking to this type of leader, organize your speech in your own head first, then report to them clearly and logically.

In summary, this article establishes the reasons of why we need to push our team members or our leaders in our project as project managers, and how we can achieve that

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