When Mary (one of my close friends) and her husband got married almost 25 years ago, they promised to have lunch together at home, every day. In spite of all the jokes their friends still crack about their lunch time appointments, the couple has kept their promise over the years. Their daily lunch dates allow them to check in with each other half-way through the work day, instead of waiting until day’s end when it might be too late to offer each other support. Business owners and managers can learn from this. Rather than conducting project evaluations only after projects are complete, on-going and mid-way project evaluations facilitate adjustments that improve results.
Provide additional support as needed
I recently worked on a month long project where in addition to the project launch and project wrap-up meetings, the organisers held weekly debrief meetings too. During those debriefs, our team leader found out how everyone was coping with their work loads. She also asked if anyone needed additional support to meet deadlines. Following one such meeting, a colleague and I found ourselves appointed as analysts to support one of the university professors on the team. A busy schedule had prevented the professor from preparing important background information. My colleague Francis and I provided the requested support and enabled the project to remain on track.
The weekly debriefs were a forum where we felt like we could ask for whatever we needed to help us meet expectations, on time and within budget. What are you doing to ensure your employees have access to any additional support they might need?
Reallocate scarce resources
As part of the same project, 13 teams of seminar participants had four minutes each for questions and answers, after their presentations. During the first four presentations, the teams asking questions took three minutes, leaving just one minute for presenters to respond. Presenters were unhappy. Thanks to on-going evaluation, we limited questions to two minutes. Respondents then had two minutes to respond. Do you need to reallocate any of the resources in your business in order to achieve the desired results?
Stop unproductive practices
During the third week of the same project, Francis made a presentation that generated several questions from our clients. In our desire to preempt any additional questions, our team leader and I both jumped into the conversation. Needless to say, the team ended up looking a little disjointed. As soon as the meeting ended, Francis pulled both our team leader and I aside. He expressed concern over our apparent lack of trust in his capabilities and the poor image this presented to our clients. The team immediately agreed not to “interfere” unless called upon and going forward, presented a much more cohesive front to our clients. What bad practices do you need to immediately halt in your business?
Assess project performance as the project unfolds as opposed to waiting for the project to end.