Recently I talked about what I called “𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻“ for executive leaders and project sponsors. It was a great list of actions that leaders can take while planning transformative initiatives and projects.
However, for many project leaders, the pre-project planning ship has sailed.
It would be easy to sit back and complain about how the constraints your team are working under are affecting your ability to get things done and are burning people out.
While that might be accurate, it doesn’t need to be the story that you tell yourself.
𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝘃𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗺 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗶𝗿𝗰𝘂𝗺𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲.
As a Project Leader, you can “𝙬𝙖𝙡𝙠 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙖𝙡𝙠” and show “𝙚𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙩𝙝𝙮 𝙞𝙣 𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣” too.
Here are 5 actions to take today:
- 𝑩𝒆 𝑷𝒓𝒆𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒅. Don’t burn down your team’s time unnecessarily. Show up to meetings with a clear purpose and agenda. Facilitate a robust discussion, set context, validate assumptions, make quick decisions and recap actions with clear ownership. Reduce meeting time. Reduce required attendees. Block out focus periods with zero meetings for your team to get work done. Don’t waste your team’s time by spinning and re-asking the same questions over and over, or by producing meeting notes that are a stream of he said/she said that take 15 minutes to read and digest. Your action-oriented summary should be a few bullet points, clear actions, owners, due dates and understandable in under 30 seconds.
- 𝑩𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒄𝒊𝒑𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒅. Be organized. Keep track of actions, tasks, issues, open questions, risks. Organize the project information so that the team can find and take action on information quickly and efficiently. If you are disorganized, your project will be disorganized, and the team will be disorganized. Have a clear plan for your #1 priority daily. Be clear about the purpose of your project and align your team’s priorities to that purpose. Stay on course. Hyper-focus on the actions that will achieve the outcomes that are needed. Hold yourself accountable.
- 𝑫𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒊𝒏𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏. Empower your team by providing the information that they need to know just as they need to know it. Avoid having your team spend time endlessly searching for information. Put their tasks, and the context they need to complete those tasks, right at their fingertips. Create a weekly calendar view of your project plan (spoiler, your team won’t read your structured project plan or gantt chart). Call attention to key project activities and tasks required to keep those activities on track, plus impacts of going off track. Put this information in front of your team as often as is needed so they can take action quickly and easily without any churn. And then they can hold themselves accountable.
- 𝑳𝒆𝒂𝒅. Handle issues as they arise. Don’t sweep friction and conflict under a rug – ask questions and help your team navigate these stress points. Pull yourself out of the day-to-day fire-fighting to take a forward-looking perspective – address high priority or impact risks before they become issues. Have tough conversations with executive sponsors and stakeholders. Be the leader that your team needs you to be. Advocate for them. Be solution-oriented. Be creative. Delegate. Encourage your team to be creative and innovative. Encourage them to speak up and challenge assumptions. #𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫 every day.
- 𝙀𝙣𝙜𝙖𝙜𝙚. Take a people-centric approach. Engage your team, stakeholders, sponsors, executives, peers. Build relationships. Focus on outcomes for your organization. Work together to minimize competing demands on your team. Communicate effectively upwards, downwards and sideways. Help your executive team and sponsors avoid “echo chambers’. Be prepared to discuss issues, while offering solutions, options and recommendations. Engage, motivate and inspire your team and everyone around you.
These are the basics. Would it surprise you to learn that many experienced project managers lose sight of these as they are running around day to day in survival mode?
If you are reading this and shaking your head saying there is nothing new here then check in with what you are resisting. Become aware of your own actions. Become aware of the talk in your head. Get out of the victim mindset.
➡️ 𝙏𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙤𝙡. 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛. 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙢.
Are you leading a project or team?
Or maybe you are a team member –
|➡️ 𝙇𝙚𝙩 𝙢𝙚 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 – 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙩𝙤𝙙𝙖𝙮?|