Effective communication is at the center of successful project project management. Having a culture where information exchange is constant between you, your stakeholders, and your team is an excellent way to keep everyone on the same page.
Contrary to what many believe, project managers don’t have all the answers. So to foster a culture of collaboration, you’ll need to master the art of asking thoughtful questions and encouraging your project teams to request information when they need to as well. This is especially important when you’re working with a remote team.
Here are the important questions you and your team should be aligned with to ensure project success, broken down by project phase.
14 Important Questions Project Managers Should Ask the Team
Project Initiation Phase
The outcome of your initiation phase dictates the fate of your entire project. At this stage, communications should be directed towards understanding and addressing relevant issues for your stakeholders.
Q1: Who is the client, and what are we trying to help them achieve?
Look into your client’s business or organization. What are their business priorities, and what issues are they itching to solve? Understanding these things will give you insight into what your project’s objectives and success criteria should be.
Q2: What internal and external factors affect our client’s problem?
Do your homework and study your client’s problem comprehensively. Gather data and conduct interviews if needed. Projects rarely exist in a bubble. Diving into this early can help you manage expectations and anticipate factors that may affect your project’s effectiveness.
Read more: How to Successfully Host a Project Kickoff Meeting
Project Planning Phase
Once expectations are clear, the planning phase helps ensure you and your team have all the necessary skills, resources, and knowledge to achieve them.
Q3: Do we have existing skill sets and resources that can help us with this project?
To maximize existing resources, check for projects or research your clients may have done in the past. Check existing skill sets from your team as well. Do you have seasoned members with insight and experience on certain aspects of your project? Inventorying what’s available to you can help you avoid redundant and unnecessary tasks moving forward.
Q4: What parts of the plan and estimates are we confident and not confident about?
Data points are more important than feelings, but you shouldn’t completely discount what your gut is telling you and your team. Taking the initiative to encourage transparency at this juncture builds trust in your approach, and with each other.
Q5: What is your comfort level on our planned workflow and communication channels?
Communication and alignment with your team throughout the following stages will be crucial. But before you iron out your communication plan, ensure that you get everyone’s buy-in. The last thing you want is for them to hold a grudge every time you call them in on meetings.
Q6: What are the worst-case scenarios we might have to anticipate and prepare for?
Be sure to consider contingencies when planning. Things rarely go as planned. And the bigger your project is, the more blockers are likely to show up.
Read more: Best Project Management Software for 2021
Project Execution Phase
As you start doing the dirty work of project management, stay on top of new and relevant information that comes up. This will help you foresee issues and spot opportunities for improvement.
Q7: Did you encounter anything unexpected you’d like to share with the team?
Unexpected situations can either be beneficial or detrimental to your success. Encourage your team to bring new findings and experiences to light. This will help you assess how you can manage them, or use them to your advantage.
Q8: How are you feeling?
When the going gets tough, it’s normal to start zeroing in on the looming deadlines and increasing pressure. But as a project manager, you’ll need to exert a conscious effort to check on your team. Remember that you’re working with people. The success of your project is entirely dependent on them.
Q9: What are your recent wins?
While it’s essential to address problems, it’s equally vital to affirm accomplishments. Recognize successful deliverables and milestones. Acknowledge team members who have done exceptional work. This can be a good incentive for them to maintain their performance and encourage others to follow suit.
Read more: What Are Milestones in Project Management?
Project Monitoring & Control Phase
Q10: Are we on track?
While your team is hard at work, keep track of their progress to evaluate if you’re using your time and resources wisely. Everyone will be focused on their respective roles, so it will be important for you to keep tabs on the bigger picture.
Q11: What support or additional resources do we need?
As you discover friction points in your work and processes, encourage your team to be vocal if they need additional support or resources. Odd as it may seem, asking for assistance isn’t always the first instinct. Normalizing this can go a long way in building a culture of open communication and collaboration.
Q12: How will the new requests affect the success, scope, and timeline?
Change requests might come as situations change. Before injecting them into your plans, evaluate the effort that it will require and compare it with the impact you’re expecting it to contribute to see if it’s worth doing. It’s your job to stop scope creep.
Read more: Deliverables in Project Management
Q13: What did we do well? What did we not do well? What can we improve?
Taking the time to regroup and evaluate how you took on your project is an excellent way to recognize accomplishments, address issues, learn from experience, and strategize for improvement.
Q14: What impact did our project contribute to our client’s goals?
Do an objective assessment of your project’s success. Did you meet all your project objectives? How did achieving them improve your client’s business and organization? Affirm your project team members’ efforts by helping them see how their work has helped an important cause.
As a project manager, making sure that your team communicates is one of your core responsibilities. Asking questions will require leadership skills, patience, tact, and humility. But done right, it can have massive effect in fostering a healthy culture that will pave the way to project management success.
Read next: What Are Lessons Learned in Project Management?
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What questions should project managers ask? ›
- What is the project's objective? ...
- When is the deadline? ...
- Have you had a similar project before? ...
- How will the team communicate? ...
- What tools will be used? ...
- What are the project's priorities?
- Have you cast the right people for your project? ...
- Who are you key stakeholders and how does the project affect them? ...
- How did you estimate total project effort? ...
- What is the project's critical path? ...
- What's not included in the project plan?
- Who Defines The Scope? ...
- Who Approves The Scope? ...
- What Are Your Objectives? ...
- How Will You Know When You've Achieved Them? ...
- How Much Flexibility Is There? ...
- What Are You Assuming? ...
- Is That Everything?
For our teams to succeed under any circumstance, we must always prioritize communication, team coordination, and cooperation.What are the 3 key needs of a team? ›
Coordination — How does the team prioritize and sequence key activities and events? Communication — Do team members communicate openly with each other? Does the team experience a high-quality exchange of ideas and information? Monitoring team behavior — How is feedback given to team members?What are the 7 questions you should ask yourself before embarking on a research project? ›
- What is the question you are trying to answer?
- Do you know exactly what you are trying to measure?
- Do you have the right data to answer your question?
- Do you know enough about how your data was collected?
- Are there any ethical considerations?
- Establish company culture. ...
- Define everyone's roles and responsibilities. ...
- Ensure that everyone feels respected. ...
- Stay as organized as you can. ...
- Encourage your team members. ...
- Communicate as much as you can. ...
- Be open to giving and receiving feedback. ...
- Celebrate people's wins.
- Clarify the purpose of the meeting.
- Question the questions.
- Broaden your group.
- Draw in quiet participants.
- Look to sustainability and scalability.
- Look for faults.
- Identify the next step.
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What are the 4 C's in project management? ›
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They include process, people, proficiency, passion, patience and perfection.What are the 5 W's of project? ›
Using the "5 W's" of who, what, where, when and why as an organizational structure, W5Templates is a customizable project tracking system that is simple and affordable for small business owners.What are the 3 P's in project management? ›
Planning and managing a project involves so many elements that cannot be all included in one article. However, they can be grouped under three major categories: Product, People and Process.What are the 3 W's of project management? ›
Three important elements make up that foundation: why, what and who. Why are you taking on a project? What are you hoping to accomplish?What is the 100 rule in project management? ›
The 100 % Rule states that the WBS includes 100 % of the work defined by the project scope and captures ALL deliverables – internal, external, interim – in terms of the work to be completed, including project management.What are the four 4 pillars of project management? ›
Organizations can take steps to avoid these problems and enhance the probability for project success by building or reinforcing the four pillars of effective IT program management – IT Portfolio Management, Governance, Risk Management and Enterprise Architecture.What are the 4 questions needed in making the project plan? ›
- What do you want to do?
- Why are you doing it? ...
- Structure. ...
- How and When? ...
- How much is it going to cost? ...
- What is likely to go wrong? ...
- How will you know your project met its goals? ...
- What makes this project special?
- What are the project's deliverables?
- How much flexibility do you have?
- What are the long-term priorities of the project?
- What's out of scope?
- What is the success criteria of the project?
1. What's the objective or business goal of the project? Knowing the why behind a project can help keep your team focused on the goal at hand. It also enables you to devise a project strategy that ensures you meet your client's overall objective.
What would the main 5 tasks of a project manager be? ›
Skills and attributes needed to be a project manager
direct, manage and motivate the project team. develop and maintain an agreed project plan and detailed stage plans. understand and apply business case and risk management processes. tailor expert knowledge to meet specific circumstances.
Here are six questions to ask, which you might have not considered.
- Why do we exist?
- How will we behave?
- Where are we going?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important right “now”?
- What isn't important?