If you’ve ever had a complaint come through about a worker, your first response might be to think that worker is lazy or doing something wrong. I have the opposite response – I ask “How is the project management?”
This difference in reaction is critical. As a manager, you can’t just throw work at your employees and say “Here, do this.” An enormous part of managerial work is planning and keeping tabs on your own projects, even when someone else is working on it.
Having a Defined Process
My first job was at Aerospace company making parts for turbine engines. If any part of my job wasn’t done correctly – if I didn’t follow each step of the process to a tee – people could die. This type of mindset and training taught me that there has to be a clear process in all of your work, because otherwise you never know which misstep caused a loss. In recruiting, people may not die if the process isn’t followed, but someone could lose their job or a company could lose on their investment, which is still pretty devastating.
As a manager myself, I love to train and inspire people. But the creation of defined, itemized activities is what really builds a high-performance team.
Within my own personal process, the first four important stages of recruitment are to post a job, message candidates, screen candidates and get referral candidates. Each stage is critical for recruiting the best talent to fill a job, and defining each stage removes obstacles for my recruiters in knowing what comes next.
Making the Process Work for Your Team
A defined process allows timeliness and accuracy – two things that impress a client every time. On the other hand is sloppy and late, and then you’ve done work for nothing. Having a standard operating procedure also creates more habit-based work, which alleviates the effort of trying to figure out your plan as you go. Once it’s no longer about efforts and missed steps, it’s as easy as following the step-by-step procedure.
When you are creating your own step-by-step process, start by using the people element and having open and engaging conversations with your team members. Ask them when they can reasonably have a project done, and then be sure to set deadlines, give expectations, and breakdown an outline of the work to be done in segments. It also helps to give incentives for doing the work quickly and efficiently.
Analyzing the Results of Your Process
Once a defined operating procedure is in place, you will be able to pinpoint weaknesses in the team or the process itself. Use these opportunities to improve training, and recognize areas where your team can learn and grow. However, this is not about micro-managing your team. It is about allowing them to motivate themselves to do the best they can, rather than just take a shot in the dark with their work.
Project managers are responsible to understand the project, the stakeholders and the direction it needs to go. If we don’t take responsibility for our own projects, what can we expect from our team members? Work as a team to implement project management principles and you’ll see the results.
Walt Disney said it best: “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.”