Successful Projects: What’s Your S.E.C.R.E.T?

Confused businessman standing in front of a wall of question marks

Getting projects done on-time and accurately can be a minefield of trouble. With all the good intention in the world, projects can still go south quickly.

Why should this be so? Why do projects fail? A lot of the reasons can be traced back to the team relationships. Why do people get upset during projects? Why do relationships degrade? Why are attitudes called into questioned?

Is it all down to stress? Can you keep your cool?

Projects can be hugely stressful as there is a lot at stake. Some projects have failed so badly that the future of the organization has been threatened.

So how do we ensure successful projects? Here is my S.E.C.R.E.T.:

  • Sympathy: Not everyone in the group will have the same skills as everyone else. Allow for this and appreciate the skills that everyone brings to the group. You would not expect a quarterback to kick a field goal, nor would you expect a top-class goal-scorer to play as a goalkeeper.
  • Empathy: Try to understand the point of view of the other person. Almost always, team members are looking for a project to be successful. If comments rankle or seem offensive try to see it from the other point of view before assuming the worst. Alternatively, if someone rejects or is offended by one of your comments, try to understand the reasons for that also.
  • Confidence: Look at any team doing anything, confidence is critical. Confidence in the group collective, confidence in the skill-sets of each individual, confidence in the customer to deliver on their responsibilities. I challenge you to show me a winning team that does not have confidence in their ability to win; you’d struggle to find one. Also, we often hear sports players talking about the need to make a good play to give them confidence. This is also true of a project team members. Back yourself; engage; put yourself on the line to become a confident team member.
  • Respect: Individuals can struggle for a whole lot of reasons. None of us is perfect and we’re all juggling many types of commitments in both our personal and work lives. Dealing with any delays or issues arising during the course of a project should always be respectful of the individuals involved. Focus should always be put on the project and not the individual. Obviously, if an individual is struggling and underperforming, then this needs to be dealt with. It can always be done respectfully.
  • Endurance: delivering a project requires a lot of endurance. If you have ever been involved in long distance running or, in fact, any sport, one of the key elements to enduring is to keep the stress levels under control. The higher the stress, the greater the physical and mental toll on the people involved. Stress comes hand-in-hand with project deliveries, the key to enduring is being able to deal with the stress in as positive a way as possible.
  • Trust: We’re all human. There are degrees to which we all trust. When we form a team to deliver a project, it is important that we trust the team members. Trust works best both ways. Too often we spend too much time micro-managing projects and constantly checking in with team members. There are many mechanisms to track project deliverables so just let them get on with their main jobs; get out of their way! If the trust is there, team members will let you know when there are issues.

We all need to work together, we’ve all got something to contribute but, most importantly, we all want to succeed. This is better achieved with positivity. What’s your secret?

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