Archival Projects: Evaluating and Acknowledging Performance

Margot Note

Margot Note

March 22, 2019
A challenge for archival project team members is that they become torn between the conflicting demands of their supervisor and their project manager, especially in repositories where archivists wear many hats.

This conflict arises if there’s a lack of clear priorities in their everyday duties and their project assignments. The best way of ensuring that this stressful situation doesn’t occur is for team members to clarify project requirements and agree on boundaries. Sometimes a meeting with the team member, the project manager, and the functional manager can lead to an agreement on a set of boundaries for the project work.

Leading by Motivation

Motivating team members on an archival project can be tricky. Many project managers lack the authority to hire, fire, or reprimand team members. In many cases, team members have been assigned without the project manager’s involvement. However, archival project managers are still accountable for managing the team to achieve project goals. Since project managers may not have much position power, they need to rely on motivation and influence.

There are interdependencies among team members, and they know that every person is accountable for his or her success. Therefore, if a team member is not performing well, another team member may challenge them. In some cases, individuals may need some help; in other instances, their performance may be unacceptable. Either way, effective teams hold each other accountable in a respectful manner.

Archival project managers seek out team members equally, not just the people who are easiest to find or those with whom project managers are already friendly. Archival project managers should be approachable to everyone. They should offer spontaneous recognition. If they see something good, they compliment the team member. If they see activities that trouble them, they talk to the team member in private at a later time.

Trusting the Archival Project Team

Team members trust each other. Each relies on other team members to get the job done. If there are performance issues or differences in style, team members should feel comfortable enough to address variances in opinions, values, and attitudes. High-performing teams find ways to handle differences with methods that increase trust between members.

Top performing teams show a high level of energy and achievement. They spend their time aimed at the target, are clear about what the objectives and goals are, and are focused on meeting them. Achievement fuels the energy and enthusiasm of the team. As the team stays focused on achieving the goal together, their performance improves, and their enthusiasm grows.

Inspiring and Recognizing Project Team Members

Archival project managers should focus on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses, and find a quality that they can respect in each person on the team. People enjoy their work more and work harder when they are surrounded by others who appreciate their efforts. When someone does something well, project managers tell the person, the person’s boss, and other team members that they appreciate the effort and its results.

Recognizing good performance confirms the value of their work to team members. Mention the quality of the results that he or she accomplished as well as the effort that he or she invested. Be specific and tell the person exactly what he did or produced that’s appreciated. Provide feedback promptly; do not wait weeks or months before recognizing great work.

Margot Note

Margot Note

Margot Note, archivist and records manager, writes for Lucidea, provider of ArchivEra, archive collections management for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s. See more of Margot’s advice on running successful archival projects.

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