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3 Challenges that Threaten Your Deadline

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Project Management - Part 4

Deadlines are absolutely crucial to any project. Without them, we have no accountability for achieving our goals. Though important, these deadlines can often seem out of reach. How do we as leaders make sure we accomplish what we need to before the cut-off?

As we continue our Project Management series, we hope you are learning lots about managing your teams and objectives. Today let's tackle our last two points.

7. Get Feedback & 8. Adjust Your Plan Accordingly

Healthy team members are usually good at giving constructive feedback and that usually means the leader has to adjust the plan. Every leader needs to be flexible because things often don't go according to the original plan.

When it comes to flexibility, I think our culture code, "We mess with the methods," stands out the most. To me, this statement gives us permission to try new things in new ways and if one isn't working we can try another way.

I think it's important to remember that what you tolerate becomes your standard so culture will drift where there is no accountability. We guard our culture by creating that healthy accountability amongst our teams. We can do this by scheduling regular intervals to check on the project. Whether that is every day or once a week, we need to make a point to review the progress of the project and make any adjustments if necessary.

You need to trust your team. Even though you have a vision and a plan in place, your team are the experts because they are in the trenches every day making it a reality. If they have suggestions, keep an open mind and listen to what they're saying.

The 3 Ongoing Challenges That Threaten Meeting a Project's Deadline

1. Under-communication

Communication is king and I don't believe it is possible to over-communicate with your team. Schedule weekly meetings or "huddles" so that everyone has the most recent updates and any issues can be addressed. Meet even if not everyone is available and then update those who couldn't attend.

2. Unforeseen Obstacles

As a leader, it is important to prepare for any obstacles in advance as much as possible so that you can handle them before they become big problems. As Solomon said in Proverbs, "The wise see trouble coming and avoid it."

3. Under-resourced Teams

It's your responsibility as a project manager to provide your team with the appropriate resources and information so that they can complete the project on time.

What If Part of the Project Fails?

There is always a human element to every project so you should expect mistakes and setbacks. How you respond to mistakes is so important because it sets the tone for how your team will respond moving forward.

If you overreact, you will create a culture of fear and your team will be afraid to make mistakes and will stop taking risks. If you under-react, you will create a lackadaisical culture and again, what you tolerate will become your standard.

Celebrate!

Breaking the project into small bite-sized pieces and regularly reviewing and revising allows for more celebrations. Celebrate the victories with your team as well as make corrections as needed. What you celebrate gets repeated so it's a way to keep your team motivated as well as a way to establish the culture you want to be repeated.

Accountability is Vital

Accountability is not just correcting what is wrong but is also rewarding what is right. I see accountability in three things:

a) When winning is rewarded.

b) When losing is penalized.

c) When mediocrity is challenged.

If these three things never occur, you don't have accountability and without it there is dysfunction.

In my opinion, accountability is most important in the church, because without it, we can get off course and away from our mission. And we know that our mission has eternal consequences; people's eternities are literally at stake because the church is the hope of the world and Jesus gave us a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

6 Steps to Delivering Constructive Criticism

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I have always disliked confrontation and every time I am nervous and have to force myself to do it. I thought that after a while I’d get used to it, but I still battle those feelings, even after 20 years of being a senior pastor. To be honest, I think that fear is healthy and I think anyone who likes criticism is unhealthy. We should hate it. But with that being said, I have learned to hate the results of not confronting situations or people when it needs to happen more than actually having to do it. It’s unhealthy to like confrontation, but it is even more unhealthy to avoid it altogether because you fear it so much.

Set Clear Expectations

I think the most important thing you can do as a leader is to create a healthy culture of accountability so that constructive criticism is normal, expected and healthy. This means three things:

  1. Failure is penalized.
  2. Success is rewarded.
  3. Mediocrity is challenged.

Without these three things in place, a culture will be dysfunctional. The clearer you are with your expectations and desired results, the more leverage you have as a leader to hold your team accountable. In fact, if your expectations are crystal clear, then your team should hold themselves accountable. 

Create Safety

When the other party feels frightened, nervous or otherwise unsafe, you can’t talk about anything. But, if you can create safety, you can talk to almost anyone about almost anything.

I have learned that people feel unsafe when they believe one of two things:

  1. You don’t respect them; or
  2. You don’t care about their goals.

I have to start with what is important to both of us—not just what’s important to me. Understand their expectations and natural tendencies and then establish a crystal clear culture within your organization based on your expectations as the leader.  

When establishing a culture, you must remember that what you tolerate will become your standard.  Make sure you establish clear boundaries and then enforce those boundaries with healthy accountability. Reward what you want to be repeated and correct what you want to be changed.

[bctt tweet="What you tolerate will become your standard." username="kellystickel"]

Wait for 24hrs

I try to wait to confront for at least 24 hours after the problem has presented itself to rid myself of as many of the explosive emotions as I can. This way, I can be frank and stick to the facts rather than drift and say things I’ll regret later because I’m too worked up. 

Establish a Plan

During that 24 hours, I establish a plan. I prepare for the meeting and write out as much of what I want to cover in the meeting as I can, in the order I want to deliver it. 

We need to remember that excellence in a confrontation is a learned skill. I don't think this comes naturally to anyone. I’d highly recommend the book “Crucial Accountability” as a starter on how to confront with excellence. 

Don't Play Games

You may be familiar with the practice of sandwiching constructive criticism between compliments. Games like the sandwich method are often way more destructive than helpful. The key is to get right to the point. Start the conversation with "I want to talk about this problem."

Clearly Define the Problem

Conflict is the space between what I expected and what I experienced so I must define that space. Define the problem before the meeting so you are prepared going into it. 

[bctt tweet="Conflict is the space between what I expected and what I experienced." username="kellystickel"]

Many times it is a systems problem rather than a leadership problem. When that’s the case, I help the leader identify the problem and aid them in solving it. Next time, they will identify it quicker and solve it themselves without coming to me.

At the close of the confrontation, I aim to develop win-win plans. These are plans that are going to benefit both of us. They often begin by remembering who does what by when and then who will follow-up.

 

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca