Did you know 30% of project managers break up large projects into smaller segments, with deliverables and evaluations at the end of each segment, which has been proven to increase success?
While it is all too easy to drift into a project without a plan, never underestimate the power of the milestone as a stepping stone to success; or the weight of a millstone as unpreparedness drags us into the depths of failure.
Precision Clarifies Goals
How can we complete a successful project if we don’t know where we’re aiming?
From the off, it is vital that all employees understand their role in the project, the expectations on their shoulders, as much as how they should approach their unique responsibilities throughout its planning and implementation process. By communicating with those around us, sharing ideas as to the best route forward and making sure everyone knows what they must do, it is more than likely we will arrive at a coherent strategy that the whole company can buy into.
Making sure to put in the hours before you kick-off a project, is a sure-fire way to avoid slip-ups, so prepare and have a clear plan of action that you stick to.
Know Your Time Limits
Unknown timeframes are guaranteed to catch a team unawares. One department may be preparing to wind down, unaware that the pressure may be mounting for a last-minute burst. The result: a potential catastrophe.
Clearly defined project milestones matter, and the communication of these, even more so. Even the Project Management Institute state that you can increase the success rate of strategic initiatives by 16% just by communicating better.
If you’re walking into a process without an understanding of who’s playing what role to what schedule, we guarantee you will fall out of unison. Make sure key players know precisely when they are expected to be on duty, offering their best and delivering the goods.
Constant Feedback from the Touchline
Milestones are made for measurement – remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure – so be sure to provide consistent feedback to allow the team to celebrate every small victory, while also realising when they are slipping behind the pace. And only when we’ve reached ‘Milestone 1’ do we move onto the next.
Setting clear goals allows the team to share a common focus, taking short (but well-earned) time-outs every time there is a breakthrough, before getting back to the hard graft in pursuit of their next achievement. Celebrating small victories helps maintain a steady sense of progress, while significant success leads to reward in and of itself.
Share a Map with the Team
With such technology at our fingertips, there is little excuse for getting lost and your team will want to see the roadmap you are following. As much for their own sanity. It isn’t enough for only you to know where you are headed – they deserve an insight as well.
After all, if you’ve put the effort into creating a detailed project plan with beautifully defined milestones, why hide such a masterpiece? Instead, set it on the mantelpiece for all to enjoy.
Not only will it serve as beautiful inspiration, but the continually updating traffic light system will also illustrate when your team hits a string of green lights, or the end is in sight!
Never set milestones that are too easily achieved as, while they massage egos, they also demotivate a team, and quickly. Show aspiration and foster a positive attitude as this can only rub off on those around you.
Weekly milestones that are hit just in the nick of time are a great way to ensure a joyous finale to the week – and they create forward momentum when arriving back on Monday. Varying achievements is also crucial to avoid the monotony of same-goal syndrome.
Just be sure to allow contingency in the project completion date should one of those goals be a skip too far.
Steps to Success
STEP 1: Set overarching goals to use as the benchmark for your plan, then divide it into smaller steps to celebrate along the way.
STEP 2: Establish the timelines you are working towards and use these to guide your team when each steppingstone needs to be hit to maintain momentum and focus.
STEP 3: Be vigilant with the progress of your project. Maintaining progress through thorough support of your team and only stepping in when there is a clear risk to an outcome.
STEP 4: Display progress – use a traffic light system to assess risk, waterfall charts for progress, and tick-off both minor and major checkpoints to indicate how far you have come as much as how far is left to go. Show ambition, build momentum.
For more tips on setting up goals for project success, click here >