Encouraging project commitment as a department manager

If you agree that when you’re trying to successfully complete a project you need a team that is 100% committed,
then you probably agree that most companies are not organized to support this.

A lot of businesses today are organized in departments, each containing specialists in a certain field.  For example a sales department, marketing department, qa department, research department, etc…
It is hard to grow cross functional teams that are committed to the project goals, when they have so many other stakes than the project goal.
What is most important to them?  Helping their departments to reach their targets, or finishing this project?
Often performance reviews play a disturbing role in their decision.
In many cases, it is still the department manager that evaluates the employee. 
And of course since their manager knows little or nothing about the project, he will judge on other criteria.

Suppose you are a manager that is convinced about working in cross-organizational teams,
what can you do to encourage project commitment?
I saw one great example a while ago.

This manager, let’s call him Lou, suffered from employees coming into his office to complain about the project they were involved in.
He discouraged this behaviour by simply taking these employees back to their teams and facilitate a group discussion to sort this out.
The message was clear and simple.  If you have a problem in your team, you fix it with your team, as a team.
It didn’t take long before people stopped coming to Lou’s office to talk about project issues.  This gave him additional time and energy to figure out how his department could support the project teams more efficiently.
And maybe he’ll even figure out how to change his performance reviews in a way that people get feedback on their contributions to the projects and the teams they’re part of.

Here are some interesting blog posts about alternatives to the classic performance review:

Eliminate performance reviews – Esther Derby
Amish performance reviews – Dave Nicolette
Performance reviews banished – InfoQ
Professor Channels Dr. Deming and Writes “Get Rid of the Annual Review” – LeanBlog

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.

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