Breath of Clarity

Environmental Project Management Discussion #8

Frequent, brief evaluations are better in establishing control. In general, team meetings encourage collaboration, a sense of belonging and identity, help coordinate interdependent work, and from the employee’s perspective, are a good opportunity to break up the routine of the day. As long as they are executed efficiently, regular meetings solve problems, make decisions, and develop plans of action. Frequent correspondence allows for multiple intelligences to be combined which harnesses strengths of the entire team. It enables team members to provide the project managers with feedbacks which allows adjustments by both parties to be made at various stages. When a project manager frequently devotes time to team members, it shows them that their boss cares deeply about the project’s progress and their potential. Frequent, brief evaluations also encourage proper conflict management techniques to be implemented because issues are concisely acknowledged soon after they arise and also are not dwelled upon. It gives the opportunity for team members to ask questions about how to execute tasks which leads to more quality deliverables. It also holds team members accountable to keep up with their schedules in terms of updating audit databases. Crucially, frequent, brief evaluations allow for more accomplishments to be recognized. The comprehensive acknowledgement of minor successes enables more positive reinforcement to happen which motivates team members to do well. Lastly, corresponding in person guarantees team members are receiving information that would otherwise be communicated in writing. The clear exchange of dialogue that happens at frequent, brief meetings may be worth convening often. Having frequent, brief evaluations leads to key takeaways being absorbed by team members on a regular basis. It is more effective because team members can focus on implementing a small amount of feedback at a time as opposed to feeling overwhelmed trying to fix a lot at once.

During my time volunteering as an environmental educator, the we did a review after every session. I had meetings with the two staff members for 30 minutes after the four-hour excursions. The purpose was for the staff members to be on the same page about the needs of each child and accordingly design itinerary for the next session. We also went over how well our guidance implemented key tenants of the organization’s teaching style which included Coyote Mentoring and Eight Shields Pedagogy as well as identified moments where we could have better incorporated the philosophy. As we went over specific scenarios that occurred that day, it was interesting to consider how being able to talk about incidents directly after they happen helped us to remember the details. It was particularly useful considering examining our responses to the children’s words and actions involved taking a look at subtleties, for example word choice or body language. We were also able to implement our reflection into the crafting of our plan for the next session. Since the sessions were weekly, in between them we could mentally, individually prepare for the next one based on the review. The reaction of the personnel being reviewed was light-hearted because we appreciated the opportunity to correspond about both the day’s highlights and challenges. It made me, as well as the two other staff members, feel as though we had peer allies in the program. Although the program manager was facilitating the conversation amongst us all, the reaction of the non-lead people including myself was that we were engaged because there was a sense of humility radiating from the manager. Since the lead person was also evaluating herself, there was less focus on the other two people and therefore we could focus on implementing just a few improvement ideas the next session. As a result, the reviews were helpful.

Comment by Janice Lauria:


Great discussion post. Very detailed and insightful. I also chose frequent, brief evaluations as well. I like your point about PMs providing feedback to their teams. I agree with this point. This allows for more opportunities to do performance reviews and improvements with team members. I also like your point about conflict management as well. It is extremely important to address issues quickly especially at the beginning of these projects before they get out of control. This also allows for improvement throughout the life of the project as well and learning opportunities. Great discussion. Thanks.

Comment by Cris Marquez:

Hi Mary,

I agree that brief frequent evaluations are better in maintaining control for a project, these evaluations can be highly valuable in assessing performance and facilitating problem solving strategies. I appreciate you bringing up staff morale in the conversation, I agree that if staff members feel they are consecutively heard then they might be inclined to possible try that much more to reach deadlines. These frequent checkins could create an environment of strong communication and collaboration between the teams and staff members overall. I also agree that it is much easier to gradually fix mistakes through the use of brief frequent evaluations as issues are identified in a much smaller scale rather than flooding staff with what could be an overwhelming amount of issues to tackle.

McAbee, Jeremy. “A Guide to Project Management Audits.” Last modified May 7, 2020. Accessed November 5, 2020.

Comment #1:

Original Post by JoAnn Rizkallah:

I personally prefer brief frequent evaluations are more beneficial to the overall project. The brief frequent evaluations allow me to be able to fix or adjust anything that is off track (behind schedule, over budget, or out of scope). By conducting these evaluations more frequently I can project future issues and attempt to crash or do what is needed to prevent or fix problems. This is what gives the most control, in my opinion. If you only conduct periodic evaluations you may be surprised by an error or schedule issues that could have been foreseen and avoided. For example, if a construction project is scheduled to have roof materials delivered to begin that phase of the project on a specific date and the delivery truck does not have a crane, this could delay the project. The materials may be unable to reach the jobsite and cause a delay. Had the PM known about this issue they could have had another delivery vehicle or crane available when the materials arrived in order to avoid the delays. This simple planning measure could have avoided a problem and been realized had small weekly audits taken place.

I am currently in the process of building a garage. I approached this project as a PM and tried to conduct the project accordingly. The contractor told me what was needed and what he would get to when and I scheduled everything around that. I completed some of the work myself and hired other contractors for things such as electrical and garage door instillations. I have conducted biweekly reviews based on the fact that it was projected to take a few months because of the availability of products. The garage doors were ordered before the project every started and were not installed until almost 10 weeks later due to the delays in the shipping industry. The project schedule was pushed back and had to be delayed because of this issue. I was able to plan the other deliverables around this delay and complete several of them and received the materials for all the rest of the project before the project came to a standstill to wait until the doors were installed. Using this review allowed me to project the time roughly since the delivery date was truly unknown, and plan accordingly.

My Comment:

Hi JoAnn,

I agree brief, frequent evaluations allow a PM to adjust anything off track such as being behind schedule or over budget. It is particularly true considering a PM can calculate whether the project is behind schedule or over budget. So, since those elements can be calculated, reviewing them frequently allows for the PM to have an objective understanding about whether the project is on track. Great point in saying frequent evaluations do not only help a PM consider already existent issues, but it also creates a meeting space to project future problems. Therefore, having frequent evaluations helps a team be more proactive rather than reactive. It is interesting how increased communication amongst project team members through evaluations leads to more control. I could definitely see a team wishing they had conducted more frequent evaluations in the case a problem arises. On the other hand, I cannot imagine a team wishing they had less evaluations, assuming they were conducted appropriately. Based on your example with the crane, it is interesting to consider how evaluations also can contain preparation that helps prevent future delays.

In your garage project example, you made awesome adjustments considering the delays in product shipping.

Comment #2:

Original Post by Erik Anderson:

There are a few reasons why I believe frequent brief evaluations are better in establishing control than periodic major evaluations. First, with frequent brief evaluations, the project team will have often and routine interaction with the auditor (a/e team). As long as the audits are handled properly, these frequent interactions may facilitate increased trust, morale, and acceptance by the project team. This is essential for an auditor to gain the proper information, data, opinions, and facts from the project team that is necessary to complete the audit. Also, with more frequent brief evaluations, the auditor is more likely to identify risks as they emerge and handle conflicts sooner. This may make responses faster and lessen the impacts of the risks. Furthermore, if the auditor is skilled enough to maintain an accurate database of data and information, there should be no downside to more frequent evaluations. When a milestone report must be made (such that a periodic major evaluation may be warranted), the auditor can analyze the evaluations spanning the period of time that the major evaluation would have covered, just at a more comprehensive level. In this way, an auditor would be able to accept the greatest benefits of frequent brief evaluations while offsetting many of the negatives.

I was once selected to be part of an audit team while working as an assistant to the project founder. My role was to create a comprehensive site portfolio, meaning that I would take hundreds of pictures of the construction site, label and ID them, and create a report that matched up with the blueprints (over the course of a few weeks). My report was then given to the lead auditor, who synthesized other documents to create a formal analysis for upper management. The first week I was on site, some personnel seemed uneasy. They didn’t necessarily like the idea that I was taking pictures of the site work, and often enough certain rooms became “off-limits” the day of a scheduled photoshoot for one reason or another. This created an issue being that it was my job to create the portfolio, and soon a political dilemma ensued between the subcontractors the PM had hired and the PM/upper management. This instigated requirements for me to do an even MORE thorough search for issues, which I ended up discovering several. There was a major quality issue with a couple tasks assigned to a particular subcontractor, and they were eventually released from the project after a review with the PM. Following this audit, the PM and upper management decided it was best for me to do weekly, brief site evaluations rather than major ones, because if the issue was identified sooner than time and money could have been saved.

My Comment:

Hi Erik,

Great point in saying routine interaction is useful for evaluations. Considering sometimes it is difficult to confront problems or communicate about complex circumstances, insofar as there is a designated time to do so and all parties are accustomed to regularly getting together, it is not a big deal to acknowledge issues. Further, since the project team can expect the audit to happen if it is at a regular day and time, then it will be more prepared to be evaluated and perhaps the results will turn out better.

I also appreciate your point that frequent evaluations will help the project team get to know the auditor, and, from there, trust will be built. Since the audit includes interviews with team members and accessing information, building trust between the project team and auditor is crucial.

Your example is interesting considering you simply gathered pictures, which was a task free of potential for bias, and gave them to the lead auditor to analyze. It is a great way to incorporate team members into the audit process so that the most detailed, comprehensive information is gathered about the project, while still reaping the benefits of having an outside lead auditor. It is interesting interpersonal issues revealed quality issues.

Response by Erik Anderson:

Mary –

Insightful comments, thank you for elaborating on my supporting examples for frequent, brief evaluations; I think in a lot of ways our analysis of the topic cross. Also, when I started completing the portfolio (site analysis with pictures), there had only been occasional and major evaluations of the site. Issues that were prevalent, such as the quality of one subcontractor’s work, most likely existed on-and-off but were never revealed or brought to the attention of the PM (I basically was a liaison between the PM and sponsor/client who also helped with some project work). Suspicions arose once the subcontractor started “closing” areas off from my access, which ironically brought more attention on unfinished or poorly-done areas of the site. I think if there had been brief, frequent evaluations from the get-go the quality issues would have been identified and responded to sooner. Great discussion!