Project-managing and working with colleagues waaaasssnn’t exactly easy before the crisis. So I’m imagining that for most of us, things feel much trickier.
I can happily spend hours working alone in a spreadsheet. And I have! But there’s an undeniable satisfaction that comes with being able to work with a bunch of people, to achieve an important outcome for your org and your mission. When that happens, it’s a great feeling.
And when that doesn’t? It’s usually a hiccup somewhere in the coordination.
Here are some practical tips for better project-management and better people-management. We can’t control everything, but we can help so long as we do these things.
10 Project-Management Tips To Help You Work Better with Colleagues
1. Tell colleagues what you need from them.
How many times have we wrongly assumed same paged-ness?? Always give colleagues a chance to hear your expectations, and tell you otherwise.
2. Clarify your role with your boss.
Get sign-off to be whoever you need to for this project. Coordinator, decision maker, delegator, and occasional bad cop.
3. Communicate your role to your colleagues.
Once you’ve got that shiny sheriff’s badge, let everyone know what they can expect. (It’s soo much easier to chase people when they know it’s coming.)
4. Be thoughtful about topics that require a discussion.
Questions that require some back & forth, or updates that may come as a major surprise, deserve a quick conversation.
5. Be thoughtful about topics that can just be an email.
If it saves time and still gets the message across, email is best. That’s especially true these days, when so many of us are working from home and generally less available.
p.s. Write down everything. Paper trails provide useful documentation that your org can reference later on. Plus, we’re human. We forget things. 🤷🏻♀️
6. Pick someone/be the person who writes what everyone is responsible for.
Things have this magical way of getting done when they’re available for all to see.
7. Try to assign a deadline to every task.
Even if the real-life deadline isn’t clear, set that target anyway. A task without a deadline is as productive as a meeting without an agenda.
8. Choose a platform for managing your tasks & progress.
And stick to it! Don’t rely on that tempting combo of inbox, notebook and brain. If your thoughts & notes aren’t organized, then neither is your execution.
p.s. If you’re curious, I use free Asana. But I’m also a big believer in a good spreadsheet.
9. Give colleagues the benefit of the doubt.
Especially now, and regardless of your histories. No one’s operating at full capacity. We’re all trying to survive right now, while we happen to get work done.
10. But still hold them accountable.
It’s possible – and respectful of your colleagues’ time – to politely follow up when folks drop the ball. Give them a chance to correct their course, or to rightly adjust your expectations. And in turn, use that knowledge to do what you need to keep your project on track.
I know this is a crazy time. Keep that in mind as you plow forward! While the basics remain true, we all need to adjust how we manage our projects (and our teammates!) right now.