10 steps vs. Project stress

Project mismanaged

Project mismanaged

It’s been a long hot last few months, mainly in the upper 30°s Centigrade. Most people here are tired and if they’re lucky, they’re headed for some sort of break from their work routine.

I’m one of the lucky ones, but before taking a pause, here’s a reminder of 10 basic Do’s for Project Leaders, to avoid unnecessarily stressful, time-consuming and failure-bound team projects.

To wit:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Before you start, and before you contact prospective team members, take the time to plan each and every step, in terms of time and logistics, both yours and your chosen team members’. Job descriptions have to be complete, clearly itemized and time-lined in the contracts.
  • Translate that into complete spreadsheets. Find what works best for your project, one large poster-sized schedule with all the details, or a summary general spreadsheet, with gradual subdivision of smaller spreadsheets for the individual tasks.
  • Check that all the spreadsheets and information (with dates, names, precise number/type of documents, author names etc.), are distributed ahead of time to all the team members with workable time slots for each member.
  • Share ALL the information with ALL the members of the project: don’t hang on to some of it yourself, or distill it in dribbles under the erroneous assumption that information held back is control & power: it’s just a recipe for disaster.
  • Take account of your own logistics, but focus on those of all members of the project – make sure that their individual logistics will work well together.
  • If it’s a pre/ongoing holiday period, and you take a protracted holiday, count on having to give up some of your break-time quality, but don’t expect others to be able to do so.
  • Set up a basic format and forms for all exchange of information, whether incoming or outgoing. Avoid sending new instructions on series of longwinded emails. Too many people have forgotten how to read (!), only scan and miss out on important details.
  • All and any changes, updates, new information and tasks completed ticks should be inserted on the above spreadsheets, and sent back asap to all the members with a clear indication of the update date/time version. People are motivated by knowing where the overall project’s at and what the road ahead is looking like.
  • Trust is all. By sharing all the information with all the members beforehand and ongoing (but also post-project, if your project is going to have a sequel), you pre-empt unavoidable future bumps, and launch everyone’s work on as smooth a path as possible.
  • Don’t hog the limelight. Keep a low profile. Successful project leaders take the high road: they know that at the end of a project, it’s time to take a step back and give credit to your team members for whatever results were reached.

 Any examples of mismanaged projects out there?    chinese-symbol-for-trust


photos: http:// http://www.huffingtonpost.com  –  http:// http://www.taiwanese-secrets.com

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10 Responses to 10 steps vs. Project stress

  1. zipfslaw1 says:

    “Share ALL the information with ALL the members of the project”: I’ve read that this is not the French way, and that held-back information is thought of as power, but as far as I know, I haven’t experienced it in France–my coworkers are really generous about sharing what they know. What has your experience been in the hexagon?

    • Bea dM says:

      I’ve never worked in France, but have worked with some French people. They do seem to share & realise it’s in everyone’s best interest. Most Italians make a point of keeping the power: you never know when it might come in handy…

  2. zipfslaw1 says:

    “workable time slots for each member”: I’m a big believer in the philosophy–I think maybe it’s codified in “Agile” development–of letting each team member estimate how long their tasks will take. What do you think? I will add to it if I think they’re underestimating, but I don’t put down less time than someone thinks it will take them to do something.

  3. Patrizia el says:

    Hi Bea, thanks for this interesting post. I’ve just started my new adventure: a new suspiscious team for me to keep merged, after a really bad experience. I’m actually holding a low profile, away from the limelight. And of course I am tremendously scared even though I believe it’s going to work!

    • Bea dM says:

      Hi Patrizia, thanks for visiting! Low profile is good: just keep on planning carefully & executing with enthusiasm as you’ve always done, and trust your team-building will be just as successful as in the past! Auguri 🙂

  4. Hi Bea,

    Thanks for the information. It is very timely as I am about to begin yet another 8 months of a consulting project for a non-profit. I am the team/project leader and have a particular challenge since the team is all volunteers.


  5. Bea dM says:

    That’s nice of you, that’s what I strive for! Actually this list was inspired by a recent stressful experience 🙂

  6. Ellen Hawley says:

    Don’t hog the limelight? You sound like the ideal project leader–an example of a rare species.

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