Six Words that Can Kill a Timeline!

I thought you were getting that…. said the team member who dropped the ball yet again; or the team member who is so overloaded they can’t handle one more thing; or the team member who is still developing the skills to complete the project properly.

These words can kill a timeline, drive co-workers crazy and create stress that can all be avoided. 

These words can kick off the blame game that break down team productivity. It’s easy to fall into the trap and pick apart the individual, but it’s important to remember that they didn’t get there on their own.

Project Success Killers are Lurking

It’s important to take the time to figure out why projects continually fall behind schedule or fall short of meeting key goals and milestones instead of assuming that it’s just one person at fault.

Doing an analysis or After Action Report for your projects (as a group or individual) can help shine the light on why things didn’t go as smoothly as planned.

If you’re in diagnosis mode, here are some things to consider.

Poor Time Management & Personal Habits

When projects fall apart, yes, bad time management and personal habits skills can be to blame. This is where the “soft-skills” training on time management, habit forming, communication and team productivity can really help make a difference.

Leverage coaching and training to develop key individuals who may be really savvy in their technical expertise, but who still need to master the interpersonal skills and work habits to make them truly successful.

Realize that the things that make them brilliant at what they do, may also work against them when it comes to working in the confines of project schedules.

Possible Solution?-As a coach and trainer, I leverage the DISC Behavioral Assessment to as one of my resources to identify the personal preferences that are impeding success.

Once we know DISC styles, we can strategize and deliver developmental services to improve communication, establish time management best practices, overcome self-defeating behaviors like perfectionism or procrastination and boost overall productivity.

You can request information on my DISCover Your Style Strategy Session delivered 1:1 or find out how to bring DISC to your team here

Lack of Project Management Process

Yes, sometimes, it’s a matter of key team members not having proper project management skills. Project Management as a function is a key role that takes into accounts a number of key variables that are difficult to master.

The different stages, phases and possible pitfalls from initiation, analysis, planning, risk management, team structure, communication, cost management, problem solving—it’s a daunting list.

There’s a reason an entire industry exists dedicated to developing project managers and certifying them. Most of us don’t have the required skills, temperament or knowledge necessary to successfully manage our projects.

It has become commonplace for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to also function as the Project Managers on key projects that are much larger in scope than they are prepared for.

When that happens the proper tools and procedures may not be in put in place tools to track project milestones, dependencies, resources and timelines

Scope creep, lack of clarity, miscommunication and confusion about who is running the show are typical results. These unfortunate side effects arise when project management skills, tools and resources are not in place.

Possible Solution?– Create a standard operating procedure and establish a process for how the project should flow. Take the time to gather key individuals and capture the different phases of the project, who is responsible for executing them and key milestones and deadlines. Identify what tools and resources are available or needed to properly handle the project.

One of my favorite methods is the RACI method for managing projects. I was introduced to RACI as a marketing manager when we realize key people and information were slipping through the cracks.

When you implement RACI you identify the people who are Responsible for getting the task done, Accountable with the approval authority for the Rs work, Consulted at key stages as SMEs and Informed throughout the process.

This will make sure the right people are tapped at each stage.

  1. First layout the different phases of the project. Make sure that you are breaking them down enough to isolate key functions, especially places where possible bottlenecks exist.
  2. Identify the titles of the team members who should be performing these roles. Once you have the roles, fill in the names of the actual people. Doing the roles first then people, will help identify if there are folks holding on to old tasks that maybe moved to a different department or function. (This is a thing-trust me!)
  3. Now you apply RACI. Check out the RACI example below. You just fill out the chart for each project and share it with the team.
  4. Kick it up a notch by adding the key dates when you’ll need the Rs input and get on their schedule. Check to make sure they don’t have conflicts that might present a problem.

RACI does not take the place of full blown Project Management, but it can sure take the pain out of the everyday mishaps that plague us at work. Give it a try. Send me a shout if you’d like a copy of my RACI project planner.


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