Have you recently asked yourself why a project or business objective is not going as planned? Has your organization experienced a series of projects that ran over budget or that started and never implemented?

When on the path of continuous improvement, there comes a time when taking a step back to reflect and identify why your organization is not as successful as you want it to be or believe it is capable of is needed.

Based on experiences throughout my career, these are the most influential factors that I have found to increase an organization’s ability to meet and deliver high quality outcomes across the organization:

People First

  • Get your team members involved.
  • Your team members can be your most valuable resources – they are the most familiar with the nuances of performing daily tasks– they truly understand the level of effort it takes to complete a task or manage a process.
  • Your team will help you focus on identifying and solving the actual problem not just a symptom.
  • Commit to having a true project manager. This will ensure there is a team member with a primary focus and responsibility for the coordination of a project or initiative.

Transparency

  • If a team’s decision or recommendation is overturned – create an open line of communication so they understand why – make them part of the decision-making process. This can be done by creating parameters for the team to work within, such as budget, scope, time, etc.

Define Expectations

  • Setting expectations for deliverables and more importantly, having ramifications and a course of action if quality or deadlines are not met.
  • When it comes to high performing teams it is important to have the right mix of perspectives that can work well together.

Don’t Just Stay The Course

  • Often times there is some level of ‘hope’ that a project will just turn around without taking action to analyze, review, adjust, and communicate next steps.
  • Don’t stick with the original plan just for fear of deviating or with the mindset ‘we will meet the next deadline’.
  • Spend the time to ensure you have the right people playing the right part – play to people’s strengths.
  • If you are receiving feedback from multiple sources about a poor performer or leader – take action. There is nothing more toxic and demotivating to a team than an under-performer that is allowed to continue to do less.

Be Honest

  • Leadership needs to really be honest with their team and themselves. Is there truly a need to make an investment in a new process or tool? Or are there other underlying factors – such as:
    • poor performance management practices (i.e. keeping under performers) ;
    • lack of training on internal processes and procedures;  
    • inconsistency in the sales cycle which leads to uncertainty on how to support a product or deliver a service;
    • Absence of repeatable/trainable processes and procedures;
    • Inexperienced or undeveloped leadership.
  • During the time of reflection and evaluation, spend the time to identify the root cause of the issue and not get caught up in trying to fix a symptom.

Be Involved

  • Leadership should actively seek advice and feedback from their team to assist with prioritizing initiatives across the business.
  • Strategic planning is the most critical component to setting your team and organization up for success. Alignment across business initiatives must be clear including if dependencies exist across projects and initiatives.
  • Communicate often – priorities change and those changes need to be communicated. Even if the communication is highlighting that a project is failing – share it – be authentic about the challenges and the ideas that exist to turn things around – leadership that is involved and transparent will build a culture of trust.