For many project managers, the primary intent of a project management plan is to hedge our bets against assumed tendencies of teams to shirk their roles and responsibilities. Akin to a contract with our team members, these plans often spell out in varying levels of detail the various duties and expectations of each individual (or groups) within the team with respect to various milestones and tasks. While well intended from a communications and alignment standpoint, these plans, too often can be used as accountability weapons when deliverables are fail to meet expectations or said duties “appear” to have been shirked.
Now, I am not here to dispel the value in a well thought out and well conveyed project management plan. Part of insuring that each team member has clear expectations and vice versa includes the process of drafting such roles into words and discussing these words with your team. However, this is merely a tool; a best practice; a suggestion; a GUIDE. You are guaranteed to have to deviate from it at one point in the project or another. The team really truly has its successful origins in a trusting environment and ultimately a trusting relationship.
That trusting environment is established first by YOU; the PM. How do you convey the critical information contained within the communications and management plan related to everyone’s roles? By first appealing to their experience and by openly assuming that they have an earnest desire to do well and help the team succeed. You can leave all the consequences out of the Kickoff Meeting. You should assume that everyone wants to do a great job and build on that assumption with enthusiasm yourself followed by a clear guide for communication and roles & responsibilities.
Lay the foundation for a trusting relationship with your team and you will be well rewarded!