How to Avoid Getting Burned
By Michelle LaBrosse
summer sun beats down, there’s always someone in the family who
reminds you to put on your sunscreen. Wouldn’t it be nice if there
was a way to easily avoid getting burned at work There is. It’s
called Project Management.
bottle of water and put on your baseball cap and think about Project
Management as SPF 45 for business. Here’s seven ways that Project
Management can help you avoid getting burned at work:
Expectations with a Project Agreement:
Don’t skip the
project agreement because you're pressed for time, or you think the
project is too inconsequential. It’s often the small projects that
can unexpectedly erupt and catch us off-guard because we were
thinking: “This is going to be an easy one.” Project agreements
help to eliminate unnecessary conflict because objectives,
expectations, timelines, and roles and responsibilities are clearly
defined. If some team members are working virtually, it’s important
to update the project agreement regularly, and post it to the
collaborative work environment or e-mail it to the team.
Clear Contracts in Place with Vendors and Partners:
Make sure you
have clarified all contracts with any vendors, consultants or
partners before you kick off the project. Don’t make assumptions
about skill levels and reliability if you’ve never worked together
before. Go over deadlines and deliverables to make sure the entire
team is clear about their responsibilities. While it’s commonplace
today to work with outside consultants, problems often arise when we
work with someone for the first time. A good rule of thumb is to
set your first deadline early on, so you can assess where every one
on the team is and make any necessary corrections quickly.
It’s important to
have a regular time for reporting both progress and potential
pitfalls to the team. This keeps people on track and gives everyone
the discipline of a team check-in. qweIt is ideal if there is a
standing time every week or every month – depending on your project
milestones. Remember to build in time for feedback and coaching.
Rules of Responsiveness: It’s important to define what the rules
of responsiveness are for your culture. This is especially true
when the team is new, or you’ve added new people on board. How
quickly are people expected to return an e-mail, an instant message,
or a phone call? What is your protocol when people are out of the
office or on vacation? If you’re in a customer-service
environment, it’s important to have clear expectations regarding how
to respond to all customer inquiries.
Bury the Lead:
Have you ever missed a deadline or important
information because you didn’t read beyond the first paragraph?
Train your team to use e-mail effectively, and lead with what is
most important. Also, encourage people to use the old-fashioned
phone when something isn’t getting done via e-mail. The human voice
is a powerful tool in the world of e-mail.
Standards that Build a Cohesive Culture:
What are your
standards of quality? How do you define excellence? What does your
brand mean to each employee? Making sure everyone knows the answers
to those three questions is important in reaching your goals and
getting the results you want.
made bad hires, and often it’s because we didn’t do any due
diligence. We had a project, and we needed it done, and we jumped.
Take the time to drill down on the skills, past work performance,
and references of both candidates and contractors. During the
interview, make sure you’re listening more than you’re talking.
People will reveal themselves if they are given the opportunity.
Develop questions that require thinking so you can get a sense of
how this person would approach a problem. Don’t ask questions that
people expect such as: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Instead try: “Tell me about a work experience where you failed and
how you handled it?”
you’re working on a team where the temperature is rising, make sure
you use your Project Management skills to protect yourself and keep
your project on track. And just like your sunscreen, don’t be
afraid to apply your Project Management know how liberally.
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