What’s Your Plan?
Every Project Deserves a Plan
It’s finally summer, the weather is beautiful, and you have plenty of projects. But do you have a plan?
Small or big, personal or professional, any project deserves to have a plan. Why you ask? For three good reasons: a) it ensures you achieve the desired objective; (b) it helps to achieve it effectively; c) it maintains your mental health.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the preparation and launching of a sailboat our sailing club had bought last fall. I was so impressed by the planning exercise our group leader had done. His careful preparation allowed us to reach our goal to launch in four days, which is a huge success considering the enormous work that had to be done. From this enriching experience, I wanted to share with you seven observations I thought could be useful for my reader-leaders.
Way before the project began, our leader worked for weeks to prepare everything we needed: tasks lists, equipment required, user manual, people to contact, identification of people skills, etc. This preparation step was the result of a brainstorming session which allows you to forget nothing. So before jumping into action, allow yourself some preparation time.
2. Communication and implication of team members
A few weeks before our departure, our leader held a team meeting to share and confirm information, and to discuss the division of responsibilities. Everyone contributed actively to the discussion, the leader was open to making adjustments, and that made team members feel involved. This is a good source of motivation. Please don’t be one of those leaders who does not see the need to communicate regularly or involve their team members in a timely manner. They are your source of success; involve them!
3. Smart Delegation
To maximize efficiency, our leader used “smart delegation” to assign tasks according to abilities, level of experience and interests of team members. We should never underestimate the importance of this step especially when we believe it would be faster to do it ourselves. Taking the time to train someone can be beneficial in the medium and long term. In addition, the person you delegate to will be more motivated as he/she learns something new, and will eventually become a good support for other projects.
4. Managing Work
In the perspective of sharing responsibility and increasing accountability, our leader appointed “task group managers”, so that the management of the actual work on the boat was shared. This freed our leader to trouble shoot and think clearly when certain obstacles presented themselves. What could you delegate that would help develop someone’s potential while freeing you for other important tasks that only you can do?
5. Ability to adjust
Our leader’s openness inspired us all to use our ability to adjust when faced with glitches. A plan is important, but it must also be flexible. We, as teammates, also need to be flexible and develop solution-based thinking to help solve a problem rather than blame. How can you inspire your troops to have that kind of forward thinking?
6. Recognition and appreciation
As we progressed in our tasks, our leader showed his appreciation using simple words: “well thought what you did”; “good idea!”, etc. Remember to offer words of encouragement throughout the project and not just at the end. In doing so, you create an atmosphere where people like to work with you; it also reduces resistance when you have to correct someone’s task or behavior. Remember to have a little celebration at the end of a project and highlight the good things people did.
7. Feeling of satisfaction
Once we completed the project, settled the glitches, and put the boat to the water, the whole team had this feeling of having accomplished something important since this boat will serve all of our members. But we also felt that we had learned new things, contributed to a great project, and worked harmoniously as a team. The feeling of satisfaction team members get from participating in a task or project is worth planning for. So what’s your plan?
The next time you are asked to take charge of a project, whether it is a project of a professional or personal nature, I invite you to set aside some time for planning and preparation. This will help you reach your goals more effectively, as well as reduce your stress level. If you have summer projects around the house or the office, it’s time to plan them if you have not done so already. It goes by very quickly!
Have a great summer!