Landing an important project such as launching a new product, overseeing a company expansion, operations and even for something as simple as a new web site is always exciting. And being the independent, resourceful soul that I am, I tend to prepare the entire plan and arrive to the client’s office charged with vision, a list of suppliers and a scheduled plan.
As I’ve gained my experience throughout the years, I’ve realized that presenting a plan created by one person, can sometimes not be viewed as an asset but rather gave the client and the people around the table a weary feeling blended with a touch of distrust.
Even while many times only minor elements would be changed from my original plan, what was clearly happening was that the client and the team needed to arrive to the same place, the same vision as the person who created the plan; me, to make the project happen.
In other words, I needed to spend more time in the per-planning stage with everyone involved in the project to make sure the team had buy-in and feels they had input in creating the plan. Tip #1: Everyone in the team needs to be or feel involved to help move the project forward.
As the project starts to rolls out, it also became clear that I was not the Project Leader with the ability to make swift and confident decisions, instead, I was the facilitator, educator, and adviser. I was there to help the team make the right decisions! Tip #2: Understand the company culture and you’ll understand how to move the project forward.
My favourite saying is “planning is the easy part, it’s the people who get in the way!” (And, yes its a Tweetable!)
Okay, so now you’ve got the preplanning and acting as the facilitator down, you still need to be the expert on the subject on the project you’ve been assigned to lead. Tip #3, Be prepared. This is a great motto to live by and a great attitude for a project leader, because while everyone stills want to part of the decision-making process, they will look to you – the project leader – to have all the answers.
There are many barriers you will find in your project and the trickiest one is…, the one person who will either stop or delay the project.
This person has enough power or influence to delay the plan and this person will. Tip #4: Instead of going head-to-head with this person, find out who they trust and build alliances around this person. If they believe and trust in you, this will help to build trust in your leadership and expertise.
Finally, Tip #5: Build Your Team Based On Your Needs: You may be liked in your company and been given this great opportunity to show that you can grow with the company, but… if you don’t have the required knowledge base, this can stop the project. Bring in people who can help move the project forward!