This is a guest post by Scott Miraglia of Elevation Marketing.
Starting a new project always comes with a mixture of excitement and nerves.
Regardless of whether it’s a mega-project that’s set to last several years or a quick two-month job, it’s important to get the most out of your employees if you want to make the ride as smooth as possible.
Let’s face it: the beginning of a new project can be a logistical nightmare. Managing several different teams and setting a schedule that’s pressing but doable can be a massive headache, which is why getting your employees on the same page should be top of your to-do list.
Here’s how you can do that:
1. Set Clear Expectations and Checkpoints
Thinking about a project as a whole can be incredibly overwhelming. When the beginning blurs with the middle and the end it can be difficult to see the finish line.
This is where planning strategically can really make a difference.
Before you even assign a project to your team, it’s important that everyone knows exactly what the end goal looks like and what kind of timeline they’re working to.
On top of this, setting checkpoints for deliverables along the way can help employees break up the tasks into manageable chunks. Not only does this make the whole process less overwhelming, but it provides a good opportunity for feedback along the way (which we’ll talk about later in the post).
2. Automate What You Can
With the advanced technologies available today, it’s easier than ever to automate certain tasks in a project. This can dramatically cut down time and costs, while giving employees more time to work on things they’re good at.
Think about it:
How long do your employees spend on tasks that could be automated or sped up, like calendar syncing or scheduling meetings? There are tools available today that cover a broad range of activities at each step of your project.
You can also implement an all-in-one project management software (like Workamajig) to streamline the entire process. With tools like this, you can keep all communication in one place, as well as set deadlines and provide feedback from the same dashboard.
This might mean splashing out a little on software, but it can mean saving hours of your employees’ time so they can be more productive in other areas of your project.
3. Encourage Collaboration
A team is called a team for a reason.
During a project, you want your employees to work together to get the best out of each other’s specific skill set.
There’s a great way to do this by creating smaller teams within larger departments. These smaller “squads” have specific tasks to carry out within the bigger scope of the project, with each member assigned a dedicated role.
This can maximize the skillset of each and every employee by assigning them a role that they’re happy with, are comfortable doing, and excel at. It also avoids miscommunication and two people overlapping on tasks.
4. Let Employees Take the Lead
A report by Gallup found that 87% of workers value professional career growth and development opportunities, but a whopping 74% don’t feel they’re reaching their full potential.
This, in part, is due to employees getting pigeon-holed into a specific role where they’re unable to flex their muscles at other tasks they might be interested in or excel at.
The key here is to trust your employees to know what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing. By giving them this flexibility, you’re giving them the motivation they need to successfully see the project through to the end.
This also translates to letting employees work on the project in a way that’s right for them. Maybe this means less meetings, or them coming in earlier so they can make the most of their high-production hours.
5. Offer Incentives
When it comes to motivation, nothing works quite as well as a juicy incentive waiting at the end.
As well as breaking a project up into manageable chunks, why not offer a little something to the best-performing employees at the end of each deadline?
It doesn’t have to be a huge show of gifts. It could be a gift card, a voucher, or something as simple as a mention in the company’s monthly newsletter.
People love to work towards something, but they also like to be rewarded for working hard.
6. Provide Constructive Feedback
There’s always the danger that your employees will start wavering halfway through a project.
They’ve already done a lot of work, but it still feels like there’s an entire mountain to climb before they see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In this instance, it’s important to provide the little push they need to get back on the uphill climb.
One of the best ways to do this is to offer constructive feedback. This will help employees know what they’re doing well and gives them the chance to voice any queries they have about the remainder of the project.
Bear in mind that giving constructive feedback and not feedback that’s detrimental to employees is no easy feat.
- Giving your employees the chance to voice their opinion on the project and share how they feel about where they’re at - during this stage you simply need to listen
- Giving praise where it’s due, so your employees know what they’re doing well
- Being specific, so employees go away knowing exactly what they need to improve and the next steps they need to take
Your Projects Depend on Your Employees
Your employees are absolutely integral to your projects - without them, the projects just wouldn’t get done (or even exist in the first place).
By nurturing your employees’ specific needs, you can create a working environment that helps them thrive and, therefore, helps your project to thrive.
Start by setting clear expectations and goals, letting your employees have some power in their roles, and automating anything you can to save time.
Do this, and you’ll save time and money on your projects while encouraging maximum productivity levels from your employees.