Managing Research Projects

Managing Research Projects

Obtaining and Maintaining Engagement

  • Clarity from conception of the project team will encourage a positive and engaging atmosphere among team members.
  • Throughout the project strategies to maintain members’ engagement will enhance successful project completion and promote good working relationships between members. Including regular periods of self reflection/assessment will ‘lead to greater awareness of strengths and skills, as well as weaknesses and problem areas, so they are a useful way of ensuring a team’s continuing effectiveness’ (Constructing Excellence 2003). 
  • Additionally, ending the project in a positive way will support members’ engagement in future project work.
  • Members joining together in a project team need time to ‘find their  feet’ and establish their roles within the team and build good working relationships.
  • If effective working practice is not created at the outset of a project, it will be substantially more difficult to introduce it later on.
it’s hard to work with different people when you’ve never had any experience at working with them in the past." (quote from research data). 
  • Without continued strategies to maintain engagements members will become disillusioned and the projects success may be in jeopardy.

If the ending of the project is not a positive experience, there may be negative impacts on members’ contribution to future project working.

At the start of the project:

  • find out about members’ backgrounds, personalities and current situation
  • identify components of the project (what needs to be done)
  • agree project roles and responsibilities (who is doing what)
  • discuss and agree a Project Strategy (how it will be done), including elements of building trust and respect and how team members will communicate to achieve project objectives

Throughout the term of the project:

  • continue to hold effective meetings, (particularly, encourage open and honest communication and feedback)
  • develop supportive communication skills
  • delegate appropriate
  • resolve conflict promptly
  • create a no-blame environment
  • maintain members’ involvement in decision making process
  • regularly review team motivation
  • project leaders conduct performance reviews with all members
  • periodically evaluate effectiveness of team communications
  • strategies and process of self assessment/reflection
  • corrective strategies
  • use a system of project management to monitor progress.  

At the end of the project:

  • involve the whole team in an evaluation and celebrate successful completion
  • If it goes wrong – reduce interdependency or increase interdependency.  
Professional development of the team as a whole:
  • A team will only operate at its best if every member is working effectively both individually and as a team overall.
  • A project's progress will benefit from agreed working strategies, the successful creation of which will emanate from effective team working practice.
  • Adopting a win/win attitude (Covey 2004) will promote professional development of individuals and therefore the team as a whole.
Win/Win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It's not your way or my way, it's a better way ..." (Covey 2004).