Section 4: Leading and managing development projects print

Wed 26. Oct 16 21:30

Unit 3: Leading and managing development projects

Overview of the unit
Leading and managing projects requires a range of skills. Some of these are the same as those leaders and managers use every day, but others are specific to project management. To manage your project effectively, you will probably need to use all of the following:
  • team leadership skills
  • delegation skills
  • communication skills
  • monitoring skills
  • report writing skills
Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts and techniques related to the leadership and management of development projects
  • apply these key concepts and techniques to the leadership and management of a school development project
  • monitor the progress of the project and respond to emerging issues in project leadership and management
  • communicate with others affected by the project and report on its progress in an appropriate manner

Team leadership
Key skills for effective team leadership
The school business manager has a key role in supporting team work throughout the school. Being able to enable, lead and manage teams is a fundamental skill for all school business managers.

There is a great deal of literature aimed at team building and helping teams to become more effective google these.

Note: This topic has been removed to comply with copyright laws. It was drawn from Bell's work 'Managing Teams in Secondary Schools' (Bell, 1992). You may wish to read this or similar works.

How can we create an effective team?

West-Burnham (1997) has carried out research into what constitutes an effective team and you may find his results interesting and informative as you plan how you will work with your project team.


3.2: Team effectiveness survey
If we wish to develop as leaders and managers, it is often useful to reflect on current practice in our organisation to help us decide how we might do things better in the future.

To help you to do this, complete the 'Team effectiveness analysis' (see 'Resources' below).


This survey guides you to consider the effectiveness of a team you are currently a member of, and then provides a series of prompts to reflect on the current health of this team and how it might be improved.

You may find this information useful as you set up a new team, or move forwards with an existing team. The analysis should reveal which things are going well and should continue, and which things are not working well and require attention from the team leader.

Delegation and communication
Delegating effectively
Delegation is an important management skill. When done appropriately, it will save time, develop you and other people, and is highly motivating. It is critical for ensuring effective succession planning.

There are many levels of delegation which will take into account the experience and expertise of the members of the team, the scale of the task and requirements of accountability

Here are some simple steps to successful delegation. The questions will help you to clarify your own rationale for delegation.

  • Define the task – is the task appropriate for delegation?
  • Select the individual (or team) to whom you intend to delegate – why have you selected this person / team? Will they benefit from this experience?
  • Assess their suitability for the task and consider if there are any training needs – if individuals or the team require major training perhaps it is too early to delegate the task.
  • Explain reasons for delegating – people need to understand why they are being asked to take on a new task or responsibility. Why have they been selected? How does the task fit in with the general school aims?
  • Be clear about expectations – what exactly are you asking the person to do? Check their understanding of the task in question. How will you measure success? Make sure the person to whom you delegate also know how you intend to measure success.
  • Resources – does the person / team need extra resources to help them complete the task?
  • Deadlines – have you agreed a date for completion of the task? Is your deadline reasonable? Do you need interim deadlines?
  • Communication – how do you intend to maintain a flow of information? Who needs to be kept informed of progress?
  • Feedback – tell the person how they are doing. Make sure you give credit for success and deal promptly with problems if they arise.
Communication within the team and beyond the team

Communication in any organisation is a fundamental to its effectiveness. If you visit an organisation where things are not working well, one of the most common complaints you will probably here is that 'The communication around here is useless.' There are many resources on communication skills available for you to explore on the National College website, and you might like to view some of the videos on this topic on the Good Practice for Leaders website.

As you work through your project you will engage in both formal and informal communication with team members. Formal communication could occur through:
  • scheduled meetings
  • written project reports
Informal communication will occur as you talk to individuals outside of these formal channels.

Choosing the best way to communicate with the team is one of the arts of management. A failure to communicate is probably the worst thing you can do, but too much communication or reliance on one method of communication can also lead to difficulties. A skilful manager will ensure that there are opportunities for team members to contribute to the development of the project, and to evaluate its progress through face-to-face meetings, but will also avoid being criticised for holding too many meetings at the expense of action.

He or she will also supplement face-to-face meetings with written communications to summarise the project's progress, remind team members of key dates or tasks and so on. They will avoid making these communications too lengthy or overly frequent, and aim to present information in clear, plain English.

There is normally an expectation that project managers will produce regular reports to their line managers at agreed times during the project. It is for the project manager and his/her direct report to determine the timing, frequency and contents of such reports.

Broadly, there will be two types of report:
  • monitoring reports completed during the project (discussed below)
  • a final evaluation report completed at the end of the project (discussed in Unit 4)

3.3: Communication strategy
A common reason why some projects fail is poor communication, either between the project manager and:

  • the project team
  • key stakeholders, in particular the school senior leadership team
To avoid potential problems, it can be useful to draw up a brief document which shows:

  • lines of reporting – who will report to whom
  • when reporting will take place
  • what will be reported
  • when and how individuals will have the opportunity to contribute their ideas on the project
Draw up a communication strategy for your project.

Project monitoring

Tips for monitoring progress
Perhaps the biggest headache for project managers is ensuring that the project is on track and progressing at the intended speed. Because projects can be messy and involve individuals who also have lots of other things to do as well, knowing if you are making real progress against the plan can be difficult.

Here are some tips for how you should approach the monitoring of progress.

  • Always speak to the person actually responsible for the work or task.
  • Focus discussions on 'time still to complete' (otherwise you may find that work is always '90% finished'). Make sure estimates take account of the time needed for review and clearing up any outstanding issues.
  • Follow this up by asking yourself how much time has been spent on the project so far. This helps to check the accuracy of the overall timescale. If delays are expected it is helpful to identify any potential knock-on effects.
  • Be realistic – recognise extremes of optimism and pessimism, both in others and yourself!
  • Monitor regularly and take action, keeping a close eye on critical activities.

Monitoring processes should be systematic and fit logically within the overall project plan. These processes should be documented at the start of the project. It is useful to draw up two documents:

  • A monitoring schedule which identifies when the monitoring will take place and what format it will take (for example, a meeting to discuss progress with the team; a written report to the school's SLT and so on).
  • A monitoring pro forma which allows the simple recording of progress to date; the identification of any necessary corrective action; any new risks that have emerged and how they will be managed.
Below is a simple example of what a pro forma might include.



3.4: Monitoring progress
Draw up a schedule and a process for monitoring the progress of your project.

The schedule should clearly indicate:

  • when the monitoring will occur
  • who will carry out the monitoring
  • what will be reported upon
  • reporting procedures following each round of monitoring
You might wish to use a template like the one above or you could design one for your purposes

You have now completed this unit.

Complete the below  Assessment tasks


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