The beginning of a new project can bring lots of enthusiasm to a team. Seeing the potential for increased revenue or increased capacity makes the work inherent in a major project seem exciting, not daunting. So, you begin planning the execution strategy and rallying the troops.
But, before you know it.. the team loses focus in favor of putting out today’s fires and while the project isn’t dead, it’s lost the all-important momentum to keep it moving forward. If your big strategic project is idling, check out these tried and true steps to restart the engine:
1. Identify why the project was kicked to the curb.
Knowing why the project lost steam may help you determine next steps and prevent future hiccups.
Has there been a change in leadership?
Do you have management approval?
Is the entire team on board?
Is this project still a priority? If not, why?
What’s the impact to the company if the project doesn’t move forward?
Are you lacking resources?
Is “scope creep” making the project too complex?
2. Define your original motivation and expectations.
Now that you know what caused your project to stall, it’s time you redefine the desired results for the finished project. Sit down with your team and envision the finalized state of the project. By breaking down the expectations, it will be easier for everyone to anticipate the end goal and what it means to get there.
Hop into the future and imagine the ways your company will benefit by successfully completing the project. This will motivate your team, reminding them why this project must go on.
It’s crucial to keep your team motivated, so celebrate the next major milestone. Rather than jumping to “what’s next,” congratulate the team for their efforts to date. Infuse the situation with fresh energy and bring life back to the project.
3. Work little & often.
You’ve acknowledged the roadblocks, redeveloped project expectations and now understand the importance of team motivation. What’s next?
Break down objectives into tangible tasks. Confirm that the right people are assigned to the appropriate tasks. By doing a little each day, you’ll keep your mind in the game while completing tasks more effectively. Assigning more easily achievable to-dos allows the team to regain a sense of accomplishment as you begin to push the project forward.
4. Set Deadlines
As you make progress on your project, set discreet deadlines for each task, rather than a single deadline for the whole project. Set periodic meetings to discuss your progress with all involved team members, checking in on individual tasks. If tasks are languishing on the list, get to the heart of what’s holding up progress and figure out how to remove the barrier to success.
While executive leadership may need to make the final decisions, progress often depends on your ability to delegate to other team members. More often than not, employees will be eager to get involved. At a minimum, have them gather information, perform basic tasks, and present you with options and summaries. Management will have more time to focus on important decisions and as an added bonus, involved team members are more likely to embrace long-term change.
6. Designate a project champion.
When a project involves lots of personnel and multiple teams, it’s easy to get stalled out because departmental priorities arise. Designating an organization-wide project champion can help maintain focus and ensure deadlines are met. In spearheading the initiative, the champion can identify roadblocks, and can take action to move everyone forward. A good project champion will also set the pace and maintain enthusiasm for the end results.
You’re now ready to bring your project back to life! Be sure that everyone assigned to the project is on board and upholds a positive, motivated attitude. Focus on the future and keep in mind all of the long-term benefits. Our last bit of advice… when you’re finished, be sure to blow off a little steam and celebrate with the team!