Over the last year, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the business world. But plans can’t remain on the backburner forever. With significant progress being made on the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, you may feel it’s time to get your business objectives back on track.
However, if you’re considering starting a new project soon, it’s a good idea to make sure that you and your team are heading into it with the right mental approach.
The turbulence of the last 12 months is bound to have had an impact on your professional and personal thinking. Risk aversion and the fear factor may be more noticeable in your team’s approach compared to a year ago, with good reason. Although the practicalities need to stack up in order for a new project to succeed, it’s also essential to go into it with the right mindset.
So, here are our best four tips to set yourself up for success.
Are you ready to start a new project?
The fact is that the world is still an uncertain place in 2021, despite all the good news currently coming our way. While you may be itching to make positive changes after all the stagnation, starting a new project at the wrong time – or in the wrong circumstances – could lead to avoidable failure.
So, don’t skip the risk assessment. Weighing up all the pros and cons will not only increase the likelihood of success, it’ll also build greater confidence in the project when it does go ahead.
Also, check on the mental health of your team. If it’s been a tough year, are they ready for this? Are you? Will a new project provide a helpful fresh focus, or do you all need some recovery time before taking on a new challenge? A good leader needs to understand the difference between pushing a team and overstretching it.
Leadership skills matter more than ever
Even the best team in the world will struggle to overcome poor leadership. You need someone in charge who has strong project management skills, as well as a mindset that is both positive and realistic.
Is that you, or your chosen manager? Can you approach this project with great leadership attributes and the ability to stay positive? If not, that’s a solvable problem. Increase your chances of success by investing in some leadership and management skills training first. Virtual business skills courses provide a great resource that can be tapped at relatively short notice.
Boost confidence with real-world evidence
I’m using the word ‘confidence’ a lot in this article. That’s because it really matters to have a confident mindset when you’re tackling something new, particularly in testing times such as these. That doesn’t mean ploughing ahead with blind optimism, though. It means taking the time to be confident that you’re making the right decisions, allocating the right resources, delegating to the right people and being ready to change course if that’s needed.
Once you’ve made those decisions, make sure everyone has the information they need to feel confident in the outcome. Don’t just tell your team, “This is all going to work out brilliantly!” Show them why you believe it’s going to work out brilliantly, so they can trust and share in your view.
Set SMART goals from day one
Defining the scope of your project has always been an essential part of good project management. You may be tempted to set your sights on one ambitious goal that will have a huge, possibly immeasurable impact. But it’s far more constructive to set smaller SMART goals that can be met in realistic and frequent increments.
This has extra importance when the business landscape is as changeable as it is right now. Avoid putting a lot of weight on the ultimate outcome of this project at the moment, if it could be easily shunted off course by a further twist in the Covid-19 saga. Focus on the small successes that will still have a good impact on the business. Don’t start out with an ‘all or nothing’ approach, as failure to achieve that could be highly demoralising.
Marking off measurable milestone successes along the way is not only better project management, it’ll also be much more beneficial for your team’s mental health. It’s easier to stay positive when you can see tangible achievements being made at every stage, even if the overall project has to be changed or put on hold.
Above all, team managers should lead by example. Expect your usual high standards, but don’t denounce yourself as a failure if your project gets hijacked by factors outside your control.