5 ways to…keep projects afloat

Managing projects when the going gets tough

High expectations, scarce resources and nigh-on impossible time frames are all par for the course in today’s workplace. Even those who can keep up the pace are in danger of burnout. A leader with a calm head and clear direction is what’s needed to navigate troubled waters.

1. Reiterate the end goal.
Instead of getting bogged down in minutiae, step back and remind the team of where you’re heading, and why. Be clear on what success will look like using specific, concrete measures: ‘double the number of customer advocates’ is better than ‘happier customers’.

2. Relinquish control.
When projects are on the rocks it’s tempting to tighten the reins and revert to command and control mode. But effective direction isn’t about giving instructions. Collective leadership engages the troops, so distribute decisions and ask the team to come up with solutions.

3. Clarify roles.
Feeling accountable drives action so make it crystal clear what’s expected of each team member and how it fits in with the roles of others. Teams work best when they collaborate, so build inter dependency and peer reviews into the workflow to avoid anything slipping through the net.

4. Reinforce standards.
To meet tight deadlines with limited resources everyone needs to operate at the top of their game. Explain specifically the behaviors you expect to see and create a culture of high expectations by calling out below-par performance. Most of all, practice what you preach.

5. Reset your zoom level.
Recognise when you need to see the big picture and when you should delve into the detail. By alternating between the two you’ll ensure the project is on track without micromanaging. Figure out what your default zoom level is and remind yourself to switch it up.